Is Seoul, South Korea safe?

My daughter has applied to study abroad for 6 weeks this summer. She picked Seoul. My husband is a bit concerned because of the nutjob in North Korea, but maybe Dennis Rodman will stay away.

Anyway, can anyone who’s traveled to Seoul give me feedback? Is it pretty safe? Would you be concerned if your 21 year old daughter were to study there for 6 weeks?

While the Kims can be nutjobs, I think the chances of them actually doing anything stupid like nuking Seoul in any given 6 week period are so small as to not be worth worrying about. North Korea has existed for a long time making empty threats and nothing has come of it so far, and they know that the second they do anything other than talk they’re basically as good as a smudge on the floor. As far as (especially violent) crime and such go, Seoul is a safe city. Just don’t do anything stupid you wouldn’t do in New York City or similar. I would be really, really far from worried :).

N. Korea has been sabre rattling near-constantly for fifty plus years. There’s no guarantee that the current round isn’t bluster, but its pretty unlikely.

Plus they have something like half the intentional homicide rate of Cincinnati, so whatever small additional risk she faces in Seoul from being nuked by N. Korea is probably more then compensated by the smaller risk of her being a victim of violent crime in the US. And of course, the chances of either are minuscule.

(on preview, Jragon makes pretty much the exact same points in the exact same order. Ah well)

I was actually kidding about the North Korea threat. I’m more concerned with her personal safety. She’s a tad naive when it comes to big cities. For instance, when we were touring Boston, I noticed she left her backpack unzipped and money clearly visible inside.

Other than using her common sense, is there anything unique to Seoul that she should be concerned with? The equivalent of “Don’t walk through Central Park at night”? She doesn’t speak Korean at all, so I’m hoping that train stations are easy to navigate and that she can figure out grocery store shopping, etc.

According to my link

But I’ll defer to someone more knowledgeable on specific areas to be wary of. Paging HazelNutCoffee.

I know virtually no Korean but I was in Seoul for a week last summer. Trains and public transportation is incredibly simple to figure out. Finding an English speaker when one would have been helpful is often “difficult”- they don’t volunteer/admit their knowledge or skills until you really look like you need help. But every time there was a lack of communicating ability, they walked to the next store, etc. until they/we found someone who could help- so I was never left stranded and my overall impression is that Koreans are incredibly kind and helpful as a whole (not a single exception). Seoul is very tourist friendly (for instance, you can check your bags into your flight at the downtown train station, wander around for a couple of hours and then head for your flight via train).

A couple of thoughts:

  1. my impression was that a taxi was suggested for every little trip and that walking a kilometer to get to the subway or train station was bordering on the bizarre. But Seoul is an awesome walking city with clear crosswalks and drivers who obey the laws. And it is clean! with well maintained sidewalks.

  2. Get your daughter a money belt. Forbid a backpack or bag or purse- they are only for books and groceries and should have nothing of value. Teach her to be a good traveler. She will be easily befriended- I talked with many many people and I don’t even know how half of the conversations started.

  3. Your daughter will be fine. The areas where she will be interested in going and seeing are quite safe. Have her listen to some basic Korean CDs (or podcasts even) ahead of time, but I would rank Seoul above any European city other than London or Paris for ease of getting around and general safety (it probably has those two beat on personal safety).

  4. I am probably not the best judge of personal safety as I would quite obviously, to any possible safety threat, be a bad target so maybe just stick with my thoughts about ease of getting around and ease of finding English translation if necessary.

Doesn’t HazelNutCoffee live in Seoul?

The only thing you need to be worried about in Seoul is random Zerg rushes. Luckily, Protoss Photon Cannons guard all major thoroughfares and Terran Siege Tanks are placed on higher ground overlooking much of the city. If she sees a flash mob of Gangnam Style dancers, just tell her to go with the flow and break off like she would swimming with the tide.

I lived in Seoul for about 10 years. I’d say it’s a very safe city, as long as you follow your common sense.

I appreciate all your responses. Crossing my fingers that she’s accepted into the program. Last year’s didn’t get enough interest.

I’ve been there and it is very safe.