South Korea is an extremely urbanized country, with many different major metropolitan centres around the small peninsular tip.
Each city in South Korea suffers from the same criminal activity as any other city around the world. From petty thieves and con artists to drunken brawlers, danger could be a threat to anyone – it's about knowing the areas to avoid and tactics to stay safe.
Be cautious when you're close to one of the US military bases – they're a sore point among many South Koreans, so they can occasionally attract trouble.
Be aware of where you're going, and try to appear simultaneously confident as you explore the urban landscapes of Seoul, Daejeon, Busan, Jeonju, and other major cities.
This should be obvious, but when you travel outside your home country, please don't bring any type of contraband items with you.
South Korea take the matter very seriously: travelers will be charged a hefty fine, and face long jail sentences for bringing unauthorised goods into the country. This includes narcotics, some prescription drugs, health supplements, firearms, ammunition and explosives, as well as radio equipment, and gold.
Marijuana is also taboo in South Korea. Possession and consumption comes with a large fine possibly jail time as well, so think again if you are planning to have a cheeky smoke.
Be careful what books and magazines you bring into the country, as anti-obscenity laws are very strict.
Know that if you commit a serious enough crime, you may be liable for the death penalty – even though you're not a citizen. Executions are still a matter of debate in South Korea, but people have called for executions when it comes to violent crime.
Given South Korea's very strong sense of national, ethnic, and racial pride, don't be surprised if some of the legal adjudications seem un-fairly biased – some might suggest there's an undercurrent of racism.
If a Korean man accosts you on the street, think twice before hitting back. Unfortunately, the law will side with the Korean nearly every time. This could be the case in serious crimes like rape, though if you are the victim of such a crime, you should consult with your nation's embassy to see what can be done about legal recourse.
It's important to note that South Korea has one of the lowest crime rates in the modern world, so a lot of this article is, in truth, hyperbolic. In other words, you shouldn't decide not to go to South Korea just because you're concerned about crime that could very well happen anywhere else in the world – perhaps even at home.
There's so much to see, from historic temples to politically intense spots (the DMZ with North Korea, for instance) to ultra-modern cities and peaceful honeymoon resorts. South Koreans are extremely friendly, and this friendliness comes from their pride in their heritage.
As you would elsewhere, respect and celebrate their pride, get to know their story, and go out of your way to learn a bit of the local language. The chances of you running into any sort of criminal activity are slim to none.
Did you have any uncomfortable moments in South Korea, or was your trip completely safe? Tell us in the comments below!
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