South Korea

South Korea is a country on the southern half of the Korean Peninsula with 51 million inhabitants. Yearly more the 14 million tourists visit this magnificent oriental country. It shares one of the most militarized borders with its north neighbor – North Korea. South Korea is well known for its green countryside dotted with ancient Buddhist temples, coastal fishing villages and high-technological cities like Seoul. South Korea has plenty of appealing, worldwide known destinations for tourists, among them are Gyeongbokgung Palace, N Seoul Tower, Bukchon Hanok Village and Lotte World. While a very safe country, some parts of South Korean’s cities are best to be avoided, and pickpockets can be a problem near some touristic spots. SafeAround has compiled information from numerous sources make sure you have a safe trip in South Korea and be aware of all potential dangers.   South Korea is the 84th safest country in the world, based on the safest and most dangerous countries ranking.  

SAFETY INDEX

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Is South Korea a Safe or Dangerous Country?

South Korea is a safe country. However, the big amount of tourists, attract thieves as in any country in the world. We advise exercising normal safety precautions in the Republic of Korea. Generally, the violent crimes and homicides level are low. The most common crime types there, are pocketing and bag snatching, particularly on a public transport, big transport hubs, markets and other popular places, which are frequently visited by tourists. There have also been reported instances of sexual assault, after drink/food spiking in bars and clubs. Therefore, the best option would be avoiding visiting such kind of places alone at night and look after your drinks wherever you’d be. Notoriously known Seoul’s red light district, around HaWolGokDong and ChungRangRi Train Station with its massage parlours. Additional precaution, which is worth to follow is to refrain from using unofficial taxes. The best way is to use trustworthy services like Uber, that is also a good way to save some money on a ride. It is important to note, that there are a lot of scammers and con artists on the streets as well. The most widespread among them are Teahouse scam when some girls come up to the tourist and start speaking in English. Saying they are interested in practicing English language and want to talk, asking if a tourist busy or not. If a tourist agrees, usually this friendship ends up in a teahouse with a huge bill. SafeAround also advises being aware of ripping off in cafes and restaurants, when 2 type of menus exist, for tourist and locals. Another issue in South Korea, as in any other country with vibrant tourist activity, is unfair taxi drivers, who just call the price for a ride, based on their humble opinion.  Normally this amount exceeds 2-3 times normal rate. ATM frauds are common. Exercise caution while withdrawing money from the ATM. Keep your credit card in sight and monitor your transaction statements regularly. Hongdae, Myeongdong, Itaewon, Sinchon are well-known shopping and entertainment areas, where crowds and alcohol bring a higher risk for crime. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) and South Korea remain in a state of war. The conflict may escalate any time. We recommend following news and government announces, concerning the state of relations between the countries. Is South Korea safe or dangerous? Find out on the Travel Map

Warnings & Dangers

Mid Priority-96 OVERALL RISK : LOW

South Korea is a safe country. It is ranked 84th out of 162 on the ranking of the safest and most dangerous countries.

Mid Priority-96 PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM

Pickpocketing and bag snatching are the main crimes in South Korea, especially in tourist areas in the capital and big transportation hubs.

Mid Priority-96 MUGGING RISK : LOW

There is no kidnapping risk. Mugging is rare but still, happens.

Mid Priority-96 SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM

The most common scams are ripping off in the cafes, bars and taxi.  Drink / Food spiking is known.

Mid Priority-96 TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM

Risky behavior on the road is common, thus the  Republic of Korea has one of the highest rates of traffic deaths for a developed country. Be careful while driving and check carefully before stepping onto the road.

Mid Priority-96 NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : HIGH

South Korea has experienced earthquakes, but a majority causes little damage. Typhoons may occur in August and September. Flooding and mudslides frequently interrupt transportation. South Korea located in the oceanic region, thus there is a risk of tsunamis. Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

Mid Priority-96 TERRORISM RISK : LOW

The treat of terrorist attacks exists, but relatively low. Be vigilant to suspicious activity.

Mid Priority-96 WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW

South Korea is very safe for women travellers. The assaults are rare and almost doesn’t exist.

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Useful Information

Visa and other entry and exit conditions change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of the ROK for the most up to date information. Foreign nationals are finger-printed on arrival in the Republic of Korea. Make sure your passport has at least six months’ validity from your planned date of return to the country you’re visiting. www.doyouneedvisa.com is a useful website that can help you know if you need a visa or not based on your nationality and the country you’re visiting.
South Korean Won is an official currency. SafeAround doesn’t recommend exchange money in street money changers.  The best exchange rate can be found in the official banks.  Withdrawing money in the local ATM’s may also be a good option.
Winters in South Korea are cold and dry. Mean temperature in Seoul in January is around -5°C. Summers are sunny and the temperature goes up to 25°C.
As in any country, we advise travelers to get a travel insurance that covers not only medical problems but also theft and loss of personal items. Learn more on our travel insurance page.