The land of K-pop, K-drama, and a zillion hike-able mountains, South Korea is a contrast between traditional and ultra modern. Gawking at the shiny skyscrapers of Seoul, discovering the ancient temples of Gyeongju, eating all the kimchi you want; we love it!
But of course, there’s the elephant in the room – North Korea. Whilst one of the major tourist destinations of South Korea is, in fact, the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ), tension and mistrust remain between the two Koreas. It’s all a bit unnerving.
So we totally get why you might be wondering if South Korea is safe or not. That’s why we’ve created this epic insider’s guide to staying safe in South Korea. You’ll find a whole lot of tips and info in here that’ll help you travel smart. And that’s what we’re all about.
We’ll be assessing how safe it is to drive in South Korea, whether or not the food is safe in South Korea, and just about everything in between. There’s going to be a whole load of topics aimed at making your time away AWESOME.
With the threat of North Korea always present, you may (understandably) be wondering if it’s safe to visit South Korea right now, or you may be worrying about heading to South Korea as a solo female traveller. Whatever it is, our epic guide has you covered.
As a group of adventurers, enthusiasts and fearless travellers, it pains us to tell you this, but the fact is that most travel is currently not safe, and in many countries, not possible because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Nations across the world are fighting to contain the outbreak and flatten the infection curve – an effort that every citizen and responsible traveller should be part of.
For the most up-to-date safety information and what you should be doing to help, please consult the WHO and your local government.
- How Safe is South Korea? (Our take)
- Is South Korea Safe to Visit? (The facts.)
- South Korea Travel Insurance
- 19 Top Safety Tips for Traveling to South Korea
- Keeping your money safe in South Korea
- Is South Korea safe to travel alone?
- Is South Korea safe for solo female travelers?
- Is South Korea safe to travel for families?
- Is it safe to drive in South Korea?
- Is Uber safe in South Korea?
- Are taxis safe in South Korea?
- Is public transportation in South Korea safe?
- Is the food in South Korea safe?
- Can you drink the water in South Korea?
- Is South Korea safe to live?
- How is healthcare in South Korea?
- Helpful Korean Travel Phrases
- Final thoughts on the safety of South Korea
How Safe is South Korea? (Our take)
We’re not going to lie – backpacking and traveling South Korea is cool. Everything from the bustling big cities to the myriad mountains here that are perfectly poised for hiking. Let’s not forget the Buddhist temples and tasty food. All of this makes South Korea an extremely fascinating destination.
And it’s safe! That’s right, South Korea is safe.
Basically, violent crime and petty theft are basically non-existent, especially against tourists.
BUT there are some things to note. Speedy drivers are definitely a problem; when we say “speedy,” we mean really speedy. Political protests are ALSO something that you should keep an eye out for.
Of course, the North Korea situation is always looming, but we’ll get into that in a moment.
Is South Korea Safe to Visit? (The facts.)
Thinking of taking a trip to South Korea? Well, we say go for it.
South Korea is so safe that you could accidentally leave your phone on a table and no one will take it. Seriously. That sounds pretty good to us.
A lot of people are worried about the threat from North Korea and hesitate to visit because of it. Whilst it’s a genuinely tense border situation, the security here is high, to say the least. The DMZ is very secure, albeit touristy at times, and is run by the US Military, who, we all know, mean business.
BUT with South Korea’s change in government in 2017 (ending decades of the Park Dynasty clutching power), communications between North and South have opened up again for the first time in years.
They’ve even agreed on a peace treaty. (What?) Yep, the Korean War never OFFICIALLY ended but now it HAS. And that can only be a good thing.
So with Kim Jong Un finally committing to de-nuclearisation in April 2018, it seems like things are getting better.
The situation doesn’t seem to be stopping people from travelling to South Korea either. Over 13 million tourists visited in 2017, with Seoul seeing the main chunk of visitors. That’s pretty popular.
And getting around South Korea is straightforward. Honestly, it’s VERY easy to get off the beaten track here (that’s saying something about the safety), and you’ll feel like you’ve got the country to yourself. Backpackers are few and far between.
There’s still tension though and things can always change quickly.
Currently, the international situation is stable and South Korea is safe to visit.
Do you need Travel Insurance for your trip? Even if you’re only going for a few days, that’s more than enough time to get smote by wrathful angels. Have fun in South Korea, but take it from us, overseas medical care and canceled flights can be seriously expensive – insurance can, therefore, be a life-saver.
Travel mishaps can and do happen and it is well worth thinking about insurance before you leave home.
We have used World Nomads for years now and I have personally made several claims. Why not get a quote from them yourself?
Do be sure to read the terms and conditions to make sure that the policy covers your needs.
Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!
So, whilst South Korea may be a pretty safe place to travel around, it always pays to have a few travel tips under your belt. As we learnt from the Singapore police: “low crime doesn’t mean no crime.”
Just because it’s super safe in South Korea, doesn’t mean you should be taking unnecessary risks. As with everywhere in the world, you just have to make sure you travel smart.
- Don’t get involved in protests – anti-American, pro-Park, pro-North Koreans, whatever – it’s illegal for foreigners to join in.
- Keep up to date with the news – you’ll know if things start to get TENSE again, so you should know what you need to do.
- Watch your bags and valuables in crowded tourist areas – pickpockets DO exist. Some people are still very poor. If it would make you feel better, bring a money belt with you.
- Crowds and alcohol = more crime – let’s be honest – mobs and booze don’t usually mix well. So if you’re out drinking in busy areas, like Itaewon in Seoul, stay at least partially alert.
- Koreans like to drink – a lot. If you’re out drinking, knowing your limits is a good idea.
- Steer clear of drugs – they’re PRETTY strictly prohibited in South Korea. We wouldn’t advise it.
- Air pollution can get pretty bad in the Spring – staying inside as much as possible is a good idea if it’s really bad.
- Careful of ticks – tick-borne diseases, like encephalitis, are NASTY. It’s best to cover your arms and legs when hiking.
- Learn a bit of Korean – some say that hangul (the Korean script) is not that difficult to comprehend; at least, not as bad as Mandarin or Japanese. Try learning a few key phrases and words. This will help decipher menus, get your bus right, and generally open South Korea up.
- Don’t mention the war – no really, don’t. It’s still a very sensitive subject, especially for older South Koreans.
- Be aware of typhoon season – this is from June to November. Typhoons can be pretty scary and dangerous.
- If you do go to the DMZ – DON’T DO ANYTHING STUPID. The smallest thing can hold up the tour and cause a genuine security issue. The DMZ is serious business, people.
- Take your shoes off when you go inside people’s homes – standard practice.
- Rules and signs are to be obeyed – on trains, on buses, wherever. People might not do so in your own country, but they DO here. Follow suit. Definitely, DO NOT sit in seats reserved for older people on trains.
- … Because older Koreans are tough – especially the ajumma (older ladies). They’ll push past you with vigour to get on/off trains. They literally do not care. They’ll also stare.
- Watch out for overfriendly strangers – people ARE really friendly. But if someone seems weird, they may well be.
- The roads can be SCARY – for example, bus drivers sometimes drive like maniacs. Use your seatbelt.
- Don’t be reckless when hiking – the approach may seem easy, but then suddenly there’s a fraying rope and sheer cliff to climb up. Research the routes beforehand, make sure people have done it before, and KNOW YOUR LIMITS.
- Be respectful at temples – dress modestly. You may be excited, but yelling and being stupid is disrespectful in these venues.
So there you have it. A few safety tips for South Korea to help your trip go as smoothly as possible. But honestly, South Korea’s crime rate is one of the lowest in comparison to other developed countries. There’s not a very high chance of anything crime-related happening to you. The roads, or hiking in the mountains, pose more of a risk to you. So do your research and be careful!
Some General Safety Tips from the OG Broke Backpacker
Keeping your money safe in South Korea
One of the main things that’s going to be a problem in ANY country is going to be losing money. Whether that’s at the hands of a pesky pickpocket or you actually just LOSING your wallet or something, it’s always a drag.
South Korea may be very safe, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be immune from crime. For extra protection and the ultimate peace of mind, we’d suggest getting yourself a money belt.
There are definitely a LOT of different money belts to choose from out there. Don’t worry, we’ve found the perfect one – the Active Roots Security Belt.
It’s affordable, which is a plus, and it’s sturdy, which is even better. But the best thing? It actually looks like a belt and not like a weird accessory.
So whatever happens to your main stash of cash during your trip to South Korea, you’ll always have a backup in your money belt. You never know what’s going to happen; it may be your own forgetfulness that has you losing money. Whatever it is, a money belt is always a good idea, especially when it’s as subtle as this one. We definitely approve.
If you need a little more room for your passport and other travel valuables, have a look at a full-size money belt that tucks under your clothes instead.
If neither of those options appeals to your refined fashion sense, don’t compromise! Opt for an infinity scarf with a hidden zipper pocket.
We’re definitely up for the idea of solo travel – all this amazing, worldly stuff to see and no one to answer to. Your itinerary is your’s and your’s alone. Plus it’s the challenge of doing something epic and all the rewards that come with it. We love it.
And if there was EVER a place to travel by yourself, it’s South Korea. South Korea is safe for solo travellers, absolutely. Truthfully, we would be devoid of a lot of worries if we were to travel alone in South Korea. But still, there are always some things you should know.
- Don’t be afraid to wander as most areas are pretty secure. Walking around the cities, especially Seoul, is easy. You can explore the different neighborhoods of Seoul with your phone in hand and you’ll be totally FINE.
- Korean restaurants are usually for big groups of people. Unless you hit up a local dak-galbi place with a group of travel buddies, be prepared to head into the orange tented street food stalls instead. Much more suited to someone by themselves and you won’t be taking up a table meant for 4.
- With that in mind, book yourself into a hostel with good reviews. The more social, the better – if that’s what you’re looking for, of course. There are some GREAT hostels in South Korea, but be forewarned they often AREN’T the most outgoing places. Shop around, READ reviews, and don’t go on ratings alone.
- Since it’s not on any WELL trodden backpacker trail, South Korea can feel lonely at some points. Keep in touch with people at home and let them know you’re having a great time; chat with people at your hostel; strike up conversations with other foreigners in bars. Anything to keep you from feeling those solo travel blues.
- Young Koreans are super friendly and easy to make friends with. Hang out with other people on beaches, on boardwalks, on steps, busking and drinking. Chatting with strangers is actually pretty normal in South Korea and, for you, it’s a great way to learn more about the country. Most likely YOU will be pretty interesting to them, too.
- Know your limits when it comes to alcohol. Soju – Korean rice wine – is strong and cheap and it’s very easy to find someone to drink with. But being able to return home and not getting absolutely wasted is sensible when there’s nobody else watching your back.
What can we say? South Korea is safe. Super safe. There’s nothing to stop you completely bossing this country since there are basically NO places you shouldn’t go by yourself…except to a Korean restaurant. (We’re kidding, sort of.)
Get off the beaten track, see what untravelled towns you can find, pick a point on the map and go for it. Remember to be sensible though: it’s all on you out here!
Is South Korea safe for solo female travelers?
The world is different for a solo female traveller, unfortunately. There’s always more you have to think about, more you have to worry about, more you have to keep in mind – that’s the annoying truth of it all.
BUT! South Korea is totally safe for solo female travellers. In fact, you won’t even get too much hassle from guys if you’re out by yourself. Koreans are often out late in the cities, drinking and eating, and a lot of women walk around by themselves without a care in the world.
South Korea is not a place you’re going to have to stress about how you’re dressed. Granted, you should know that Koreans (men AND women) dress really well. So if you feel like showing off with some sharp outfits, here’s the place to try ’em out. But other than that…
- Sexual abuse DOES happen in South Korea so it’s not to say that women here DON’T face challenges – they do. Maybe in the past, things like this were underreported, but recently more and more allegations of harassment have started coming out. For example, 9 out of 10 South Korean women say their country is sexist.
- So get chatting to some Korean women: at hostels, when you’re out and about, wherever. Striking up a conversation is a great way to learn more about the country.
- Book yourself into a hostel with GOOD reviews and which preferably comes with a female-only dorm. It’s a good way to meet other female travellers from all over the world, who are quite often from East Asia.
- Take something like a walking tour, a hiking tour or a cooking class (honestly, we HIGHLY recommend the latter). You can learn some stuff whilst meeting some cool people.
- Make friends online. Join Facebook groups that organise wine-tastings for foreigners, food and farm tours in Seoul, and more. These sort of things help foreigners – both expats and travellers alike – meet and mingle.
- Don’t be afraid of temple stays as a solo female. You’ll be put into a room with other women, who are cool to chat with. Plus, there are some AMAZING female monks out there to learn a thing or two from.
- Unlike Thailand or other backpacking countries, there are no tourist minibuses that you book through hostels. BUT taking public transport between destinations is super safe and usually very straightforward.
- ALWAYS keep an eye on your drink and don’t leave it unattended, no matter how safe a situation might seem, it’s just not worth it to take risks with your drink.
- Speaking of which, don’t ride a taxi when you’re super drunk alone. If in doubt, get in with friends. It may seem 100% safe, but taxi drivers around the world can be sketchy.
- Keep in touch and let people know about your plans. It’s not like you’re travelling around a war zone, but just check in with family and friends back home every few days. Letting them know where you are and where you’re heading and staying next makes sense.
- Even though South Korean society is mainly hassle-free, nowhere is without sketchy areas and people. It’s never a good idea to walk around deserted areas of a city at night. And with that in mind…
- … If you’re heading out for a night out, make sure you know how to get home, what time the metro finishes, if you can get an Uber, etc.
- Trust your gut. If someone you don’t want to talk to is annoying you, or you’re getting weird vibes from someone, know that it’s ok to be firm and then remove yourself from the situation.
There are tons of ways to store valuables and goods while traveling but a travel scarf has to be the least obtrusive and the most classy.
The Active Roots Zipper Scarf is your run-of-the-mill infinity scarf but with a hidden pocket that’s big and sturdy enough for a night’s cash, your phone, a passport and (hell with it) some snacks too!
South Korea is a FUN place to experience as a female traveller. The cities are mostly safe, transport is mainly trouble-free and there’s a good range of affordable accommodation on offer, so you won’t have to scrimp on safety just to stay inside your travel budget.
With being a woman and all, there’s that shitty phenomenon of becoming more of a target for theft and sexual harassment. We reckon that, while these things do exist in South Korea, it IS safe for female solo travellers. AND it’s even a great destination for first time solo female travellers.
So go to South Korea, eat out in the restaurants, head to the temples, travel on the trains, and hike in the mountains. Just follow your gut and don’t put yourself into any obviously dangerous situations and should have an amazing adventure.
Is South Korea safe to travel for families?
YES, South Korea is safe for families. Super safe.
Koreans LOVE children. Kids all over Korean TV and they are the literal focal point of families.
There are family-friendly resorts like Jeju Island to explore if you want to chill on the beach for a few days. There are sprawling palace complexes and old traditional villages to run around. It’s a lot of fun!
And, there are lots of child-friendly museums (the Children’s Museum in Seoul, for example) and parks equipped with fun fairs and zoos, which are PERFECT for days out with the family.
The distances between destinations aren’t too massive either. So if you want to do some travelling around, you won’t have to put up with overly long bus journeys or overnight trains with your kids in tow.
Children stay up late in South Korea as well and are welcomed in restaurants. You’ll often see families out eating together until late, all diving into some tasty stuff.
You might want to think about what food your kids will eat though. A LOT of Korean food is spicy and very meaty, so do some research on what you fancy trying and everyone should be happy with their meal. Also, kids’ portions don’t exactly exist, because the food is a sharing experience – the entire family is meant to order a big pot of dak-galbi (or whatever) together.
Whilst hiking is really accessible and straightforward, there are some surprisingly challenging parts, like sudden sheer drops. Make sure you keep an eye on your kids when you’re out exploring.
Ultimately, South Korea is REALLY safe for families. Go and have fun!
Is it safe to drive in South Korea?
Well, YES it is safe to drive in South Korea, as many Koreans obviously do, but it may not be worth it.
If you’re thinking of going on a road trip, but haven’t driven abroad before, we wouldn’t recommend it. Its much more stress-free to just take public transport, which is more reliable and runs ALL OVER the country.
Driving around cities like Seoul and Busan is just really not worth the hassle because of the TRAFFIC. The metro and buses should take you where you need to go without any trouble
Drivers in South Korea are also CRAZY FAST. It’s so bad that there’s actually a huge rate of road traffic accidents. The government has been trying to clamp down on speeding, which means there are LOADS of cameras on the highways.
That said, there are some nice road trips to be had and rural areas are a lot safer. Just watch out for those speedy highway buses and wear your seatbelt. (Why WOULDN’T YOU?)
So in conclusion, it’s safe to drive in South Korea but you won’t need to.
Is Uber safe in South Korea?
Uber IS safe in South Korea…
… But it’s heavily restricted by government regulations. This means you can only get UberX, which is unnecessarily expensive. And only available in Seoul.
There IS Kakaotaxi – a taxi-hailing app that features private cars and regular taxis. It will track your journey much like Uber and is also CHEAPER than Uber. Be aware that you can’t be picked up or dropped off near a taxi rank.
Are taxis safe in South Korea?
Taxis are safe in South Korea and you’ll find them just about everywhere: at taxi ranks, airports, bus stations…
…Or just driving around. In this case, they might beep at you if they’re looking for a fare. They’re safe to get in and safe to hail; just do so AWAY from intersections.
Taxis come in two general types: standard and premium. Standard taxis are white, orange or silver. The premium ones are black and are obviously more expensive.
Drives tend to differ a lot – some may drive slowly to rack up the meter; others might drive crazy fast. Most often don’t really know where they’re going and tend to neglect GPS navs.
Make sure YOU have your hotel already marked on a maps app in case your taxi driver gets lost. This does happen.
Oh and don’t expect your driver to know English; speaking or reading. Have your destination written in hangul and show them, unless you’re confident with your Korean pronunciation.
But in general? Taxis in South Korea are safe.
Is public transportation in South Korea safe?
It’s all good.
Public transportation is SAFE in South Korea. And ultra comprehensive.
No less then SIX of South Korea’s city’s come complete with their own metro systems. These are new, cheap, clean, and hassle-free services.
Public transport in South Korea is efficient and cheap too. Seoul’s metro system travels WAY outside of the actual city, allowing you to explore further afield.
Buses in the cities and towns are safe but can be slow because of traffic. They can also be a little hard to figure out without some hangul skills under your belt. Do some research on routes or go to tourist information to learn about popular routes.
As for getting AROUND the country of South Korea, the train network is pretty good. It gets you to and from big (and small) cities but it can’t go everywhere. It is however cheap, clean and safe. There are a few high-speed routes as well and these are, obviously, pretty quick, too.
Long distance buses go everywhere else that the trains don’t. These aren’t always the newest or safest way to get around. Plus, the drivers speed, which can be a BIT scary. If you don’t want to fear for your life, don’t sit at the front.
But the buses will get you to your destination for VERY cheap. The bus stations, whilst not exactly the shiniest of places, have things like convenience stores, toilets, and even bakeries.
Be aware that buses make pit stops at highway service stations, where people can grab a snack or go to the bathroom. These stops are usually very brief though and they might even LEAVE early, so bear that in mind!
In conclusion, public transport in South Korea is safe and it makes the country a breeze to get around.
When moving from place to place, you shouldn’t store travel documents in a bag, even if it’s under your seat or overhead.
A full-sized money belt that stays tucked under your clothes keeps your documents and cash organized during your travels and assures nothing critical gets left behind or stolen.
Is the food in South Korea safe?
South Korea boasts a lot of food that’s pretty famous worldwide. Bibimbap, kimchi, bulgogi, and gogigui (Korean BBQ) enjoy the largest spotlights. But there’s other stuff like pajeon (green onion pancakes) and dak-galbi (marinated chicken with glutinous rice and other goodies) that are totally worth trying as well.
All Korean food is super tasty. But it can be very spicy, very strong, and very meaty. Being a vegetarian in South Korea is going to be PRETTY tricky – trust us.
South Korea also gets a bad rep with the whole dog meat controversy. We’ve never seen it on sale, to be honest. In general, the food in South Korea is safe, but it pays to be SENSIBLE on any food odyssey…
- Ease yourself in as you can get pretty ill if you’re not used to spicy food. There really is A LOT of spicy food in South Korea. If spice isn’t your thing…
- … Make sure you know a little bit of Korean so you can ask for dishes “without chilli sauce.” This also helps if you’re a vegetarian. Simply saying “no meat” in Korean or saying you’re a “vegetarian” will help a lot. Even learning to read hangul will help you read the menus without help.
- Even so, you might not even know what you’re ordering! Sometimes you might just have to take the plunge and point to something or ask the staff at the restaurant for help. This method works better for non-vegetarians.
- If in doubt, head to a Western-style place. We’re not talking fast food but more like Italian. There are plenty of these in Seoul and other big cities and decidedly unspicy. Plus, they’re cheap.
- Look online for good reviews, read blogs, or better yet, wander around and look for somewhere that looks busy. Busy = tasty. Busy = food that won’t make you ill. Not worth popping into somewhere empty that might be untasty or unclean.
- You’ll see orange tents along the streets in cities – these aren’t roadworks, these are food stalls. It can be a scary prospect ducking into one of these as people tend to huddle in here and look uncomfortable doing so. Look through the plastic windows and see if it’s busy. If so, the street food is probably good. Drinking is definitely copious at these, which means people are generally chatty (practice your Korean here).
- Be careful with seafood. Make sure it’s FRESH if you have it. Stuff that’s been sitting around for a while can not only make you ill but give you proper food poisoning, which will basically put you out of action for at least a day. For instance, eating seafood late at night might mean you’re eating food that’s past its prime.
- And another thing that makes you ill is not washing your hands. Seriously, WASH YOUR HANDS. If you aren’t already doing this before you eat, we want to know: why?!
If you like food, and you’re a carnivore, you’re going to have A LOT of fun trying out all the food in South Korea. We’re not going to lie, it IS hard being a vegetarian in South Korea. Meat is MAINLY what’s on offer and it might mean relying on Western restaurants.
BUT that’s not to say there aren’t Korean dishes that are meat-free. If you’re confident enough, just ask for no meat. (It’s definitely doable.)
As for keeping healthy and not getting ill, just try to go to places that seem to be busy and avoid stuff that looks dirty. Simple as that.
Can you drink the water in South Korea?
There are conflicting schools of thought.
Whilst the tap water IS safe to drink in South Korea, many Koreans don’t drink it.
They choose instead to either boil or filter it before drinking. You might want to do the same. It isn’t even seen as NORMAL to drink water straight from the tap and Koreans will think you’re weird.
Even so, we still think you ought to bring your own water bottle and at least try the tap. Chances are you won’t get sick and you’ll avoid wasting money on bottled water. Most importantly, you’ll be doing the environment a favor.
If you want to explore the backcountry, we’d suggest boiling and filtering your water or using The GRAYL GEOPRESS.
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Is South Korea safe to live?
LOADS of expats live in South Korea. From US servicemen to English teachers, many foreign nationals live South Korea for varying lengths of time.
South Korea is a very safe place to live in, which makes it attractive; that and the fact that it’s one of the most modern, eccentric, and entertaining cultures in the world. (We submit to you: K-dramas and K-pop.)
It won’t necessarily be the safety that you’ll be worried about though, but the homogenous society.
South Korea still lacks anti-discrimination laws, which means you can be turned down for a job simply for not being Korean. Though these sorts of laws are recommended by the UN, they’ve been stalled numerous times in Korean politics due to a “lack of public consensus”.
As such, it can be DIFFICULT to fit into Korean society, let alone be a part of it. You may find yourself hanging out with other expats a lot.
To help with this, learn how to read and write Korean. English ISN’T widespread and you shouldn’t expect people to speak it, even in Seoul. Making an effort will go a long way.
But security-wise, South Korea is safe to live in. It’s got a very low crime rate, so much so that can live PROBABLY more safely here than in your own country. Leave an electronic on a table in a cafe and no one will bat an eyelid. (Don’t actually do this.)
How is healthcare in South Korea?
Healthcare’s great in South Korea. Public healthcare is of a very high standard, especially in Seoul.
Hospitals are modern, well equipped, and up to Western European standards. Sometimes there are international clinics attached to the hospital, complete with staff who have studied abroad.
Private hospitals also exist, but you’ll have to pay a lot more for the privilege.
And if you want the experience of a so-called oriental hospital which practises traditional Korean medicine, then you CAN try it. Though we can’t vouch for its efficacy…
If you have something MINOR, like a bad stomach, for example, head to a pharmacy. The pharmacist will be able to help you out even if they don’t speak English. (A bit of hilarious miming goes a long way, of course.)
On that note, there might be a language barrier in medical facilities outside of big cities. The staff doesn’t always speak English at the more remote hospitals, so communicating might be tricky.
South Korea has a booming medical tourism industry, but this is more for cosmetic surgery and procedures. It’s a huge thing because South Korea is actually quite image-conscious. Even the South Korean government promotes it. Look into it if you like but make sure you do your research first.
Helpful Korean Travel Phrases
Korean can be difficult to understand, but a little effort goes a long way. I recommend checking out this post on Korean survival phrases to get you started with the correct pronunciation.
Here are a few useful Korean travel phrases to get you started:
Ahn-nyung-ha-se-yo = Hello
Bahn-gap-seup-ni-da = Nice to meet you
Uh-dduh-keh ji-neh-seh-yo? = How are you?
Neh = Yes
Ah-nee-oh = No
Jwe-song-ha-ji-mahn = Please
Gam-sa-ham-ni-da = Thank you
Binil bongji piryo upseoyo = No plastic bag please
Bbaldae piryo upseoyo = No straw please
Plastic Kal piryo upseoyo = No plastic cutlery please
Chon-mahn-eh-yo = You’re welcome
Sil-le-hahm-ni-da = Excuse me
Yong-o-rul hahl-jool a-se-yo? = Do you speak English?
Final thoughts on the safety of South Korea
Though South Korea just achieved status as a developed country in 2016, it already has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. We’ve left money on train counters, forgotten our smartphone, and no one’s touched our stuff. The crime rate is really very low and it’s the sort of place where people don’t really commit petty theft.
As we’ve learnt from other countries, having a low crime rate doesn’t mean crime doesn’t exist anymore. Touristy places can still suffer from petty crime because wherever there are strangers with lots of money and little sense, there is always opportunity. And in areas where people are getting drunk, the situation can always awry.
That being said, South Korea is still one of the safest places that you can visit. You’re going to be able to walk around – even at night – and should feel comfortable knowing that no one is out to get you. It’s more likely that you’ll get into trouble hiking and getting lost.
There’s not a whole lot of risk when travelling to South Korea. Even the situation with North Korea seems to be getting better. Who knows what the future holds!
As always, we recommend having travel insurance no matter where you go. Accidents happen all the time, people, and you need to be prepared for anything.
Disclaimer: Safety conditions change all over the world on a daily basis. We do our best to advise but this info may already be out of date. Do your own research. Enjoy your travels! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which means we earn a small commission if you purchase your insurance through this page. This costs you nothing extra and helps us keep the site going.