Safety In South Korea

A Stark Difference

Two English language teachers posing for a selfie in a cafe in South Korea

When my friend from America visited me, we were walking down an unfamiliar street one night on our way to dinner when she said, “You know, I would never do this in America. I’d be too scared.” Thanks to CCTV coverage and good legislation, I find myself almost taking for granted the safety I experience in Korea. My friend’s comment was a reality check and a reminder of why I’m so grateful I moved to Korea in the first place. Random acts of violence in Korea are extremely rare, which is why I feel so safe when walking around Seoul at night time, even as a woman alone!


Low Theft

One of my favorite parts of living in Korea is that I can leave my stuff virtually anywhere and no one will take it. I once left a suitcase next to Suseong Lake for an hour-long boat ride and returned to find it exactly where I left it. I frequently leave my phone or laptop out at cafes when I need to use the restroom or grab my order. Not only is this a very common occurrence in Korea, but I also feel genuinely comfortable leaving my stuff out. In the time it’s taken me to write this blog post at a cafe in Seoul, I’ve left my laptop, phone, and wallet unattended twice. Does it sound too good to be true? Check out this video that tests the theory that theft really isn’t an issue in Korea.


(Disclaimer: I am not recommending you make it a habit of leaving belongings unattended for long periods of time! Of course, you always want to proceed with caution, but many will reiterate the same experiences.)  

It’s not just personal items that aren’t being stolen. In Korea, there are self-service stores, meaning you can walk into the store where there are no employees! Given the language barrier, this is really great for those days when you want to pick up a snack after work, but you don’t want to speak with anyone! Plus, I think it really shows just how trusting Koreans are! 


No Gun Violence

In my opinion, the only thing better than the low theft rate is the lack of gun violence in Korea. South Korea has strict gun laws, which means no one lives in fear of mass shootings. Every time I step into my classroom, I feel unbelievably grateful to live in a place where the children I teach can get their education in peace. Moreover, I feel such comfort knowing I can do the job I love without fearing for my own safety.


A Native English teacher in a classroom with Korean middle school students in South Korea
Seoul city streets at night

Safety For Women

In comparison to other foreign cities, Korea is extremely safe for women. My friends and I have never experienced cat-calling, and I frequently walk alone at night without worrying about the men around me. In America, I honestly never walked around alone at night without pepper spray or another method of defense close at hand. No matter where you are, it’s important to remain cautious. However, as a woman in Korea, I find I’m able to enjoy myself when out far more than I ever did in the U.S.


Diana Richtman is a writer and ESL teacher living in Seoul, South Korea. Originally from Savannah, Georgia in the United States, Diana holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia in English & Women’s Studies. After receiving her TEFL certification, Diana moved to South Korea where she works at one of Creverse’s April Institutes. When Diana isn’t working, she loves exploring Korea, drinking warm cups of tea, and scaring away her friends with her karaoke performances.