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Is South Korea Safe for Travelers? You bet it is!
Is South Korea Safe for Travelers? You bet it is!

Planning a big trip abroad is both exciting and stressful. Especially for huge international events like the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, it can seem like there are a million little details that need to be tended to. Certainly, one item on your list of things to think about might be, “Is South Korea safe?”

The answer to this understandable question is a resounding yes! In fact, South Korea is one of the safest countries in the world for foreign visitors. Combining that fact with the excitement of the Winter Games, the amazing Korean cuisine, the gorgeous scenery, and the ultra-hipness of modern Korean culture, the travel experts at Bucket List Events are thrilled to be guiding tour groups to Pyeongchang in 2018.

Here are 8 reasons why you can rest easy travelling in South Korea.

1. South Korea is not North Korea

If you knew this already, please forgive us for stating the obvious. But this misunderstanding is perhaps the biggest source of hesitation for first-time travelers to South Korea.

North Korea and its political issues are in the news often. While it’s common knowledge that North Korea’s political system is a form of totalitarian dictatorship with a centrally planned financial system, did you know that South Korea is a constitutional democracy with a free-market economy?

South Koreans are even more aware of North Korea’s recent threats in the news as you are. But despite whatever unease Kim Jong-Un’s missile testing have been causing worldwide, South Koreans carry on with their lives in peace on their side of the border.

Unlike in North Korea, freedom of speech and press are alive and well in South Korea. You really don’t have to worry that you’ll be sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for stealing a banner (though of course we’d never encourage breaking any laws!).

Korean DMZ

The DMZ is filled with poignant monuments that call for Korean reunification.

Furthermore, South Korea is by far the more sympathetic nation in the conflict with North Korea. Many South Koreans are vocal advocates for reunification, as this division has kept families separated for decades. For travelers interested in learning more about the history of this tragic conflict, Bucket List Events is offering tours of the Demilitarized Zone as an add-on during the 2018 Winter Games.

 

2. The South Korea safety ranking is better than that of Sweden, Britain, and the U.S.

Did you know that you’re better off traveling around South Korea than in ANY country in the entire Western hemisphere? Yes, you read that right. Take a look at the 2017 Crime Ranking Report generated by Numbeo.com which places South Korea as only the 109th most dangerous out of 125 countries. The United States comes in at #53, while Sweden sits at #58 and the United Kingdom is ranked #70.

Gwangjang Market

The numbers offer a compelling reason to feel very safe travelling in South Korea. Chances are, the South Korea safety ranking is better than that of your home country.

 

3. Impeachment of President Park Geun-hye has led to very civil demonstrations

In December of 2016, a motion for the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye was filed by S. Korea’s National Assembly. In March of 2017, the country’s Constitutional Court upheld this decision.

Some people worried that this turn of events might lead to violent public unrest. However, this has not been the case. Even with the largest protests totaling over 1.5 million demonstrators, very few police altercations have been reported and violence has been virtually absent. With this impeachment, South Korea may just be the best example of peaceful protesting and constitutional free speech in modern history.

Is South Korea Safe for Travellers?

A protester in Seoul calling for President Park’s resignation. Source: USA Today

Since Park’s replacement will be voted into office this month, there will be political stability restored with plenty of time prior to the 2018 Winter Games.

 

4. Over 17 million tourists can’t be wrong

Folks worried about safety in South Korea are most likely unaware that over 17 million international tourists entered the country in 2016 alone. South Korea has an abundant tourist infrastructure that includes destinations such as:

-Gyeongbokgung Palace (Seoul)

-Haeundae Beach (Busan)

-Donghwasa Temple (Daegu)

-Wolmido Island (Incheon)

-Chungnyeolsa Shrine (Busan)

-National Museum of Korea (Seoul)

-Mudeungsan National Park (Gwangju)

The city of Pyeongchang itself was listed in 2016 as one of the 52 Best Places To Go by the New York Times. Pyeongchang is home to festivals such as:

-Pyeongchang Winter Music Festival

-Daegwallyeong Snow Festival

-Pyeongchang Trout Festival

 

Gangneung Boardwalk Seafood

One of many seafood restaurants along the Gangneung Boardwalk in PyeongChang. South Korea is famous for their seafood, and the coastal town of Gangneung certainly will not disappoint.

Overall, South Korea has a positive Tourism Policy and actively invests in building out and maintaining its tourists attractions.

 

5. South Korea is a modern country with a great track record of hosting events

In 2016, the Union of International Associations (UIA) released a report called the International Meetings Statistics Report that ranked the world’s best host countries for 2015. The report lists South Korea in position #2 for global congresses hosted.

The report reveals how the country is a modern one that’s rich in gourmet cuisine, shopping and tourists hotspots. South Korea is rated as a top country to visit for both pleasure and business due to its cosmopolitanism, organizational infrastructure, and high quality of living.

Is South Korea safe? Yes it is, and you can expect a smooth experience in this country whether travelling for leisure or business.

 

6. It’s been done before

Did you know that South Korea already successfully hosted the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul? Threats from North Korea were just as much of a reality then as now, but nothing came of them. Plus, South Korea demonstrated that they are capable of hosting a very smooth operation. The country did a wonderful job of investing in its tourism infrastructure for this event, and its effects are still felt today.

South Korea is a very technologically savvy. With some of the most cutting edge technologies in the world being produced and tested there, not only are they capable of hosting a global physical sporting event, they host massive e-gaming tournaments, and there are probably 5-year olds there that could set up and host your fast website (great joke).

Regardless, they have the skills, technology, and grit to get it done.

 

7. South Korea is among the most English-competent countries in Asia

Part of staying safe in a foreign country is effective communication. Luckily for English speakers, South Korea has the single largest per-capita private English education market in the world. That means, not only is English studied very widely as a second language, but a huge chunk of the population actively pursues further English training. South Korea outranks neighbors Japan, China, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Hong Kong for English proficiency.

Many street signs, restaurant menus, and metro announcements will include English. In fact, the metros sometimes announce their next stops in not only English and Korean, but Chinese and Japanese as well. Some restaurants and shops have English incorporated into their logos.

Most public signage in South Korea is outfitted with English letters and translations. Source: CultureQuote.com

Don’t be surprised if you even get a free coffee here and there when your server asks for a quick English lesson in return.

 

8. Not as foreign as you might think 

When a culture feels “familiar”, it adds to the feeling of safety. South Korea has become similar to the United States when it comes to common daily experiences such as entertainment, fashion, pop music, and Internet access.

In fact, South Korea has been called the “Hollywood of the East” by news channels such as CNN because of the way various entertainment channels have exploded there. Their pop music industry is now called K-pop and is gaining popularity in countries such as Indonesia, Japan and even the United States.

Though there is certainly no mistaking South Korea for Europe or the U.S., you’ll see plenty of western influence in modern Korean culture. You’ll also notice how Korean culture is influencing trends in the West!

South Korea Street Fashion

Seoul Street Fashion giving New York and Paris a run for their money. Source: Fashion Breed.


The 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang will be an exciting and, most importantly, safe time for all involved. If you’re thinking about making the trip, it’s one you’ll remember for a lifetime. By no means should the question “Is South Korea Safe?” cause you any more pause!


PyeongChang CTA