Korea is by far the safest country I have been in. Before I left to teach English in Korea a lot of my friends and family were worried about my safety. While normally rational, media propaganda had its way of drilling worries into their heads about South Korea’s neighbor to the north. But, I want to say that throughout my time here, I have never felt any reason to be alarmed or concerned.
Often when I travel I am very cautious. I have a list of contacts, hostels, and emergency numbers. I do not talk about my travel plans too loudly when in public and if I feel that something is amiss, I find a way to remove myself from the situation. Korea is different.
Security Camera in Seoul
I have only been concerned once about my safety while being in Korea. It was my friend’s birthday. We pulled another long night out in Seoul, filled with laughs, dancing, and a few drinks. So by the end we were getting on the subway on our way back to Seoul Station to catch the KTX home. This was 9pm Sunday.
What seemed like an unnecessary long wait; there was a man against the wall near us. He was clearly disturbed, or intoxicated. Leaning against the wall the way the Tower of Pisa leans he caught my eye. I could not look away. BIG MISTAKE! The train arrives and we scurry on. “Please stand clear the doors are closing” was being played on the in-train speakers. Trains doors: closed and secure. Outer doors, slight problem.
Our dear Mr. Tower of Pisa rushed to the doors and prevented them from closing. He thrust his hands on the train doors preventing the outer doors from closing. Speaking in what I hope was Korean, he forces the train doors open.
Again, we were coming home from a wonderful time in Seoul, yet we were exhausted. Needless to say, this was both startling and hysterical wrapped in a nice little bow for us. We ended up running down the length of the train, escaping Mr. Tower of Pisa.
The moral of the story is not that crazy things happen in Korea, but rather when they do in all honesty they are quite funny to tell later. We were never in any real danger and always had a safe way out. In the most wired country in the world, security cameras are everywhere! If something was going to happen, someone is sure to see it. Korea is safe. I feel no worries, truly, about our neighbor to the north, or even the occasional Mr. Tower of Pisa. These kinds of things happen when living in another country, and in the end, I’m happy that I get to experience such great memories.
Max Brodsky was born and raised in Colorado and he is currently teaching in Cheonan, Korea. Realizing that a degree in English from Colorado State University will lead him to teaching or writing, he decided to head over to Korea to test the waters before jumping in. Max found that he loves every minute he gets to spend in the classroom teaching and has found a wealth of writing material. He is excited for this year abroad. Follow Max to see how teaching affects him over the year!