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Inasmuch as I would have preferred working in again, I welcomed the change of scenery and when I finally did return, I pretty much thought that I would be picking up where I had left off last year.

After all, once an old Korean hand, always an old Korean hand, right? What I hadn’t counted on (not to mention given much thought to) was that _ for all practical purposes _ I was starting all over again.

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The underlined part, 'pick up', what does it mean?

And 'Korean hand'... .... I assume it means 'Korean friends or Korean advocates.

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PructusInasmuch as I would have preferred working in again, I welcomed the change of scenery and when I finally did return, I pretty much thought that I would be picking up where I had left off last year.

After all, once an old Korean hand, always an old Korean hand, right? What I hadn’t counted on (not to mention given much thought to) was that _ for all practical purposes _ I was starting all over again.

*********************************

The underlined part, 'pick up', what does it mean?

And 'Korean hand'... .... I assume it means 'Korean friends or Korean advocates.

In this case, "pick up" means to start again [at the place you left off]; "hand" means worker, employee, experienced person (probably from the concept of manual worker).
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Also: "an old hand" can mean someone with a lot of experience in something.
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