Living in South Korea can sometimes be a little scary. At least once a month I have people asking me if it’s safe to be here, am I not afraid of the North attacking? They heard there are bombings and attacks all the time. I just have to say one thing to those people: CHILL OUT!
Living in South Korea is honestly one of the safest places I have ever lived. Sure there is the possibility of some sort of military action between the North and the South, but it’s been over 50 years since the last huge thing. South Korean society is set up in a way that you just feel so comfortable.
First of all, there is a good police and military presence. Sure this might freak some people out at first, but now it’s just natural for me to see men in uniforms on the streets. In South Korea, it’s mandatory for all men to serve 2 years in the military. This happens in their early 20’s. There are a few ways to get around this however – the director at my school, his children were born in the USA so they have dual citizenship. His son was allowed to choose.
When I lived in Osan, the American military base was very close by. Almost every day I would see armoured trucks driving along the streets, as well as both Korean and American soldiers in stores and out walking around. It does provide a sense of security – especially for a single woman living on her own. When I go to Toronto, I don’t even like walking on the streets in the middle of the day with a group of people. I never have any reservations about walking the streets in Korea, at night, alone.
Crime in South Korea is very low. Police do not even carry guns. They carry tasers I think, but not guns. Currently I live in a city the size of Toronto or New York. I have no problem leaving my laptop open, ipad out, purse on the bench in Starbucks when I go to the bathroom. When I lived in Osan, a considerably smaller city, people would leave their bikes in the hallways of the apartment buildings, mail packages, personal items etc. It’s really that honest of a place.
While Korean society is very modern and high tech, there are still very old fashioned ideals that are in place here. I’ve heard if you are caught just talking about illegal drugs you can be arrested. It is extremely hard for anyone to get these things here (not that I ever have or ever will try). Teenage pregnancy is a HUGE NO NO. It’s kind of like the early 1900’s where a teen will be shipped off to a distant relative until the baby comes. It’s easy to just say they are spending a few months in another country to learn English. Pre-marital sex is also looked down upon. Apparently even trying to get birth control is a process, but again not something that I have any experience with here. Tattoos: technically illegal although there is an underground market of artists.
The last thing I really love about Korea is this page that pops up on my computer:
When I’m on some websites and pop-ups happen, sometimes I get this message. It’s a blocker from inappropriate websites. You can read a little bit more about it here. It is censorship, but it’s attached to things like porn websites, gambling, and illegal activity. Although for those who are actively searching out those types of websites, blogger Ramen Water does have some tips for you.
Overall, I think what is key when looking at other countries, is to ignore what you are reading in the Western media. Yes some of it may be accurate, but for the most part it’s all hype. They are trying to sell stories, and terror sells.