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Is South Korea Safe?


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Heidie Cheung



South Korea, a vibrant and culturally rich country located on the Korean Peninsula in East Asia, has risen in popularity as a tourist destination in recent years. From bustling cities like Seoul and Busan to stunning natural landscapes and a rich historical heritage, South Korea offers a plethora of attractions for visitors from around the world.


As you plan your visit to South Korea, it is natural to have concerns about safety. Ensuring the safety of travelers is a top priority for any destination, and South Korea is no exception. In this article, we will delve into various aspects of safety in South Korea, including crime rates, natural disasters, transportation, food and water safety, healthcare facilities, political climate, terrorism threats, and personal belongings.


Understanding the safety situation in South Korea is crucial for a worry-free and enjoyable travel experience. While it is impossible to eliminate all risks entirely, being knowledgeable about safety measures and taking necessary precautions can significantly enhance your overall safety and peace of mind during your visit to South Korea.


It is important to note that the information provided in this article is based on general trends and should be used as a guideline rather than an exhaustive assessment of every individual circumstance. It is always advisable to stay informed through reliable sources, monitor travel advisories, and consult with local authorities or travel agencies for the most up-to-date information regarding safety in South Korea.


Safety of Crime

When it comes to crime rates, South Korea is generally considered a safe country for travelers. The overall crime rate in South Korea is relatively low, and violent crimes are rare. However, like any other destination, it is essential to remain vigilant and take basic precautions to ensure your safety.


Street crimes such as pickpocketing and bag snatching can occur, especially in crowded tourist areas or public transportation. To avoid becoming a target, it is advisable to keep a close eye on your belongings, use a money belt or a secure bag, and avoid displaying valuable items openly.


South Korean authorities prioritize the safety of tourists, and police presence is noticeable in popular tourist areas. If you encounter any issues or become a victim of a crime, you can reach out to the local police, who generally provide assistance in multiple languages.


It is also worth noting that South Korea has strict laws regarding drug possession and trafficking. Engaging in any illicit drug-related activities can lead to severe legal consequences. Therefore, it is crucial to refrain from any involvement with illegal drugs during your visit.


While South Korea is generally safe, it is always recommended to exercise caution, especially during the late-night hours or when interacting with strangers. It is also a good practice to familiarize yourself with the emergency contact numbers and your embassy’s contact information in case of any emergencies.


Safety of Natural Disasters

South Korea, like any other country, is not immune to natural disasters. While the country is relatively safe from major natural calamities, it does experience occasional occurrences such as typhoons, earthquakes, and heavy rainstorms.


Typhoons are the most common natural disaster in South Korea, typically occurring between June and November. The government closely monitors typhoon activity and issues warnings and advisories to keep the public informed. It is advisable to stay updated through local news sources or weather apps and follow any evacuation orders or safety instructions if a typhoon is approaching.


Earthquakes are infrequent in South Korea but can occur without much warning. The country has well-established building codes and infrastructure to withstand seismic events. In the event of an earthquake, it is essential to stay calm and follow safety procedures such as taking cover under sturdy furniture and staying away from windows and heavy objects that could pose a risk.


Heavy rainstorms, particularly during the monsoon season from June to August, can lead to flash floods and landslides in some areas. It is recommended to stay informed about weather forecasts and avoid areas prone to flooding or landslides during heavy rain.


The South Korean government has robust disaster response systems in place to handle natural disasters and ensure the safety of its citizens and visitors. In the event of any severe weather conditions or natural disasters, it is crucial to follow the guidance provided by local authorities, keep emergency supplies on hand, and monitor updates from official sources.


Overall, while natural disasters can occur, South Korea’s preparedness and infrastructure help mitigate potential risks and ensure the safety of residents and visitors.


Safety of Public Transportation

Public transportation in South Korea is known for its efficiency, convenience, and safety. Whether you prefer traveling by subway, bus, or train, the country’s well-developed transportation network offers a reliable and accessible way to navigate within and between cities.


The Seoul Metropolitan Subway, in particular, is renowned for its extensive coverage and ease of use. Stations are equipped with safety measures such as CCTV cameras and emergency help points, ensuring a secure transit experience. In addition, buses and trains are well-maintained and adhere to strict safety standards.


South Korea places a strong emphasis on safety education and regulations for public transportation. This includes mandatory seatbelt use in buses and strict regulations on drunk driving for drivers of public transportation vehicles.


While the overall safety of public transportation in South Korea is high, it is always advised to stay vigilant and follow basic safety protocols. Keep your belongings secure and be mindful of pickpockets, especially during crowded rush hour periods.


If you are traveling during late-night hours, it is recommended to opt for licensed taxis or use designated call services rather than hailing a cab on the street. This helps ensure your safety as well as provide a reliable and regulated mode of transportation.


Overall, South Korea’s public transportation system offers a safe and efficient way to get around the country, with the added benefit of contributing to a more sustainable and eco-friendly travel experience.


Safety of Food and Water

South Korea is renowned for its diverse and delicious cuisine, ranging from traditional dishes to international flavors. The country takes food safety seriously and has rigorous standards in place to ensure the quality and safety of the food and water consumed by both locals and visitors.


The Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety oversees the regulation and inspection of food establishments, ensuring compliance with hygiene standards. Restaurants, cafes, and street food vendors undergo regular inspections to ensure food safety and cleanliness.


Moreover, South Korea has a reliable tap water system in most urban areas, making it safe to drink directly from the tap. The water treatment facilities meet high standards, and the water undergoes rigorous testing to ensure its safety.


However, if you prefer bottled water, it is readily available at convenience stores and supermarkets throughout the country.


While South Korea maintains a high level of food and water safety, it is still advisable to practice general food hygiene precautions. This includes washing your hands before meals, ensuring cooked food is thoroughly heated, and avoiding raw or undercooked seafood or meats.


When dining at street food stalls, choose vendors that follow proper food handling practices and have a high turnover of customers to ensure freshness. Additionally, be cautious when consuming fermented dishes, as they may not be suitable for everyone.


If you have any dietary restrictions or allergies, it is recommended to communicate your needs to the restaurant staff to avoid any potential complications.


Overall, South Korea’s strict food safety regulations and proper water treatment systems contribute to a safe and enjoyable culinary experience for travelers.


Safety of Health and Medical Facilities

South Korea boasts a robust healthcare system, with modern medical facilities and highly trained professionals. The country’s commitment to healthcare excellence ensures that residents and visitors have access to quality medical services.


Public and private hospitals in South Korea are equipped with state-of-the-art technology and follow strict hygiene protocols, instilling confidence in the safety and effectiveness of medical treatments. Medical staff is well-trained, often fluent in English, and accustomed to treating foreign patients.


In major cities like Seoul, international clinics cater specifically to the needs of expatriates and tourists, offering services in multiple languages and specialized medical care.


South Korea’s healthcare system extends to both emergency care and routine medical services. In the case of an emergency, dialing “119” will connect you to the national emergency medical service, where professional help will be dispatched promptly.


It is important to note that healthcare services in South Korea can be costly for those without travel insurance or adequate coverage. It is recommended to obtain comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical emergencies and provides assistance for hospital visits or repatriation if necessary.


To ensure your safety and well-being while traveling in South Korea, it is advised to take the necessary precautions before your trip. This includes familiarizing yourself with your insurance coverage, carrying any essential medications, and researching the location of the nearest medical facility to your accommodation.


If you require specific medications or have pre-existing medical conditions, it is advisable to consult with your healthcare provider before traveling to South Korea to ensure you have an ample supply of medication or treatment guidelines.


With its reputable healthcare system, South Korea remains dedicated to providing safe and comprehensive medical care to both residents and visitors alike.


Safety of Political Climate

South Korea is a stable democracy with a generally peaceful political climate. Freedom of speech, assembly, and expression are protected rights, allowing for a robust and diverse political landscape.


The country has a long history of peaceful transitions of power through democratic elections. Citizens actively participate in the democratic process, and political debates and protests are common occurrences.


While political demonstrations can take place in South Korea, they are generally peaceful and well-managed by the authorities. However, it is advisable to exercise caution and avoid getting involved in any political or civil unrest situations, as they may occasionally result in traffic disruptions or clashes with authorities.


Foreigners are generally not the target of political tensions or demonstrations, and the South Korean government takes measures to ensure the safety of all residents and visitors during political events.


It is recommended to stay informed about any political developments or large-scale events through reliable news sources and official notifications. Being aware of any potential disruptions or safety precautions in specific areas can help you plan your travel and avoid any unnecessary risks.


In the rare event of any political unrest or disturbances, it is advisable to adhere to the guidance of local authorities, follow their instructions, and maintain a respectful and non-confrontational attitude.


South Korea’s commitment to democracy and the rule of law ensures a stable and safe political climate for residents and visitors, allowing them to enjoy their time in the country without major concerns.


Safety of Terrorism Threats

South Korea has a low risk of terrorism, with the government maintaining a vigilant and proactive approach to prevent and respond to any potential threats. The country has effective counterterrorism measures in place and collaborates closely with international partners to ensure the safety of its citizens and visitors.


South Korea has implemented rigorous security protocols at airports, train stations, and other major transportation hubs. These measures include comprehensive screenings and surveillance systems to detect and deter any possible terrorist activities.


While the risk of terrorism is low, it is always advisable to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activities to the authorities or security personnel. It is recommended to exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings, particularly in crowded areas, tourist attractions, and public transportation.


It is also suggested to stay updated on travel advisories and guidance provided by your embassy or consulate regarding potential security concerns. These advisories often provide valuable information and recommendations to ensure your safety during your visit to South Korea.


South Korea has a strong commitment to maintaining the safety and security of its residents and visitors. Continuous monitoring and collaboration between government agencies, law enforcement, and international partners contribute to the low risk of terrorism in the country.


While the overall risk is low, it is essential to stay informed and take necessary precautions to ensure your safety and peace of mind throughout your stay in South Korea.


Safety of Personal Belongings

Ensuring the safety of personal belongings is an important aspect of travel in any destination, including South Korea. While the country is generally safe, it is crucial to take precautions to protect your valuables and belongings throughout your visit.


When exploring crowded tourist areas, it is advisable to keep a close eye on your belongings and be aware of your surroundings. Using a money belt or a secure bag can help prevent pickpocketing or theft. Avoid displaying valuable items openly and consider leaving unnecessary valuables in a secure location, such as a hotel safe.


When using public transportation, be cautious of your belongings, especially during rush hour periods when the crowd density is high. Keep your bag or backpack in front of you and ensure it is properly closed or zipped.


When dining at restaurants or cafes, do not leave your personal belongings unattended. Keep your bag or purse close to you, and avoid hanging it on the back of a chair or placing it on the floor.


If you are carrying important documents, such as your passport or travel insurance, it is recommended to store them in a safe place, such as a hotel safe or a concealed pouch on your person. It is also a good practice to keep digital copies of important documents as a backup.


In case of any theft or loss of personal belongings, report the incident to the local police and your embassy or consulate. Be sure to have copies of your identification documents and travel insurance details, as these can help expedite the process of replacement or reissuing of important documents.


Overall, by practicing vigilance, taking necessary precautions, and being mindful of your belongings, you can significantly reduce the risk of theft or loss during your time in South Korea.



South Korea offers visitors a captivating blend of rich culture, stunning landscapes, and excellent infrastructure. When it comes to safety, the country generally maintains a high standard, making it a desirable destination for travelers. From low crime rates and well-regulated public transportation to rigorous food safety standards and reliable healthcare facilities, South Korea prioritizes the well-being and security of its residents and visitors.


While it is important to remain vigilant and take common-sense precautions, such as safeguarding personal belongings and staying alert in crowded areas, the overall safety situation in South Korea is favorable. The government’s commitment to safety, strong disaster response systems, and the low risk of terrorism contribute to the overall peace of mind for travelers.


It is crucial to stay informed and keep up-to-date with travel advisories, as well as consult with reliable sources for the most current information regarding safety in South Korea. It is always recommended to acquire comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical emergencies and provides assistance in case of any unforeseen circumstances.


By being aware of safety measures, respecting local customs, and staying informed, you can enjoy a remarkable and worry-free experience in South Korea. Immerse yourself in the country’s vibrant culture, explore its captivating attractions, and savor its delicious cuisine, knowing that your safety is a priority in this beautiful destination.