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CultureKorea Guide

How Safe Is Living in Korea?

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safety-in-korea
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Culture
Korea Guide
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DALL·E 2024-04-18 09.33.30 - A wide cover image for a webtoon featuring an Asian man in a baby yellow hoodie and baby blue beanie feeling very safe in Korea. The scene shows a vib.webp
Date
Jun 21, 2024
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Published
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Explore the surprisingly peaceful and secure life in South Korea. Learn about the low crime rates, sense of community, and efficient law enforcement.
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Introduction

Despite frequent news reports suggesting high tension between North and South Korea, life in South Korea can be surprisingly peaceful and secure.
While living in Germany, I was in a constant state of alertness. Whether it's leaving your belongings on a café table or walking down a dark street, there's often a lingering fear of theft or mugging. This was my reality while living in Germany and traveling around Europe, always cautious and alert.
However, upon moving to Korea, my perception of safety underwent a dramatic change. I suddenly found myself in an environment where I could leave my belongings unattended without worry, walk around at any time of the day without fear, and not constantly be on guard against potential thieves. The sense of security was a refreshing change, and it significantly enhanced my quality of life.
In this article, I'll share my observations and my general feeling of safety in Korea.

Leaving Belongings Unattended

In South Korea, it's not uncommon to see people leaving their belongings unattended. Whether it's in a bustling café or a public park, you can often see bags, laptops, and personal items left without supervision. Koreans use this method of saving the seat before going to order something at the counter. It’s the equivalent of your towel on the beach chair for Germans. This is a testament to the low crime rates and the overall sense of security that permeates the society.
I attended a festival in Seoul where I spread out my picnic blanket and placed all my belongings, such as my wallet, phone, and camera, on it. After spending six hours enjoying myself in the crowd near the stage, I returned to find everything still in place!
Note: Exceptions to the rule, particularly when it comes to items like umbrellas and bicycles. These items are more prone to being casually taken or 'borrowed' by others without permission.

Surveillance

Whether it's midday or midnight, South Korea's streets feel safe to walk around. They are well-lit, bustling, and the widespread use of CCTV cameras offers an extra layer of security. This sense of safety, where people feel secure at any hour, is due to efficient law enforcement, community vigilance, and thorough surveillance measures. While people in Germany value their privacy and have strict laws surrounding CCTV, Koreans tend to feel safer with the presence of these cameras.

No Fear of Getting Mugged or Pickpocketed

In stark contrast to many global destinations, the fear of falling victim to muggings or pickpocketing is considerably lower in South Korea. This heightened sense of security can be largely attributed to the country's stringent law enforcement and a deeply ingrained cultural emphasis on respect for personal property. Such factors enable residents and visitors alike to navigate freely, without the omnipresent worry of theft that often characterizes experiences in other parts of the world.
In my personal experience, while residing in Germany and traveling across Europe, I found myself in a constant state of heightened vigilance. The need to incessantly monitor my surroundings, ensure that no one was entering my personal space, and habitually check that all my belongings were intact was a standard part of my routine. Even a simple act like walking around at night was fraught with caution, with every suspicious figure around a corner necessitating a wide detour.

Lost and Found

In South Korea, there is an impressive system in place for lost and found items. When you lose something Seoul, there's a good chance you'll be able to retrieve it. This is in stark contrast to my experiences in Germany, where losing something often means it's gone forever. In Korea, many times, you can simply retrace your steps and find your lost item waiting for you. I accidentally left my wallet and iPad at a cafe, but I eventually managed to retrieve them!
A prime example of this is the local cafes. If you forget something there, the owners will usually take a picture of the item and upload it to their Instagram story. This method ensures that you, or someone who knows you, might see it and inform you. The sense of community and the efforts taken to return lost items to their rightful owners is truly heartwarming.
Moreover, South Korea has an extensive lost and found site, making it easier for people to claim their lost items. This system adds another layer of security and comfort, knowing that there's a high probability of retrieving lost items. This reflects the Korean ethos of respect for others and their belongings, further enhancing the sense of safety and security when living in South Korea.

Not Everything is Perfect - Dangerous Roads

Like any other place, South Korea has its imperfections, and there are safety concerns to bear in mind, particularly in transportation. Pedestrian safety is a major issue. Vehicles frequently disregard zebra crossings, and delivery drivers on bikes often pass dangerously close. Public transportation, especially buses, can also be challenging. The rapid pace and sudden stops can make bus rides feel like unexpected roller coaster trips. It's crucial to hold on tight and brace yourself for an adventurous journey. In contrast, I feel like Germany has better roads, and people driving are more in control and look out for pedestrians.

Don't Let News Headlines Mislead You

While the news can provide valuable information, it's essential to be aware that incidents reported in the media can sometimes give a distorted image of any country’s safety. Individual events can be sensationalized and may not reflect the general situation in the country. A single incident should not prompt assumptions about the entire nation.
As a rule of thumb, “Don't watch the news!” Be open and experience a country firsthand.

Conclusion

In conclusion one of the most remarkable aspects of safety in South Korea is the resulting peace of mind. Knowing that you can walk around freely, leave your possessions unattended and not worry about personal safety is an incredible relief for many who come from countries where this is not the norm. This ease of heart is not only limited to physical safety but also extends to an overall sense of wellbeing.
This peace of mind is truly one of the most appealing aspects of life in South Korea and is a big part of why so many foreigners choose to live and work here.

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About the Author

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Kim Ninja (Huy-Kim Nguyen)
Cloud Engineer / WebApp Developer 💻
Content Creator Bridging Korea 🇰🇷 to the World 🌎
Startup Founder based in Seoul, South Korea 🚀
 
The blog published by Kim Ninja (Huy-Kim Nguyen) is available for informational purposes only and is not considered legal advice on any subject matter.
 

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