Feeling Safe in South Korea
I have been living on my own since I was 18 years old, and with that comes an awareness of safety. From a very young age, we are taught not to talk to strangers, not to walk alone on dark streets, and to beware of suspicious people. Then when we start traveling, we learn to keep our money close to us, and not all in one place, to make copies of all of our travel documents, not to wear overly flashy jewelry, not to go to the seedy parts of town, not to be the only foreigner on the bus, etc.
I used to live in Miami Beach, and I remember always being hyper aware of my surroundings. I have also had my car window broken, and drunken men have accosted me on the street, so my hyper awareness was necessary. I consider myself to be a pretty well-traveled person and Korea is by far the safest place I have been.
I take public transportation all the time and it doesn’t matter that I am the only foreigner. I walk alone at night with my headphones in, and I never look to see if anyone is behind me. Since arriving in Korea, I have misplaced my passport twice and both times it has been returned to me. I have seen people leave computers and bags in coffee shops unattended and nobody has touched them.
There is definitely crime in Korea, but for a small country with a big population, they do a pretty good job of making people feel safe.
Prior to coming to Korea, I never really thought about safety and international living, but living in Korea makes for a less stressful life. Living abroad comes with its own stresses; safety doesn’t need to be one of them.