Common Misconceptions About Korea

Common Misconceptions About Korea

South Korea is not as dangerous as you would think, in fact the most common fears are mostly based on urban legends, concoction of stereotypes and misinformation. Below is a list of the most common misconceptions about safety in Korea, and if it is indeed worth your concern.

North Korea


With North Korea just over the fence, you would assume that South Korean civilians live in constant terror.  Despite making threatsviolating human rights laws and projecting worrying communist propaganda; South Korea views the North as its aggravated totalitarian neighbour. Albeit the numerous vows to take over the democratic nations, there hasn’t been any nuclear attacks since the 1953 cease fire. The general South Korean public live happily with the knowledge that war is highly unlikely.  South Korea has been preparing for war and negotiating peace for such a long time that attacks would be an  rarity. As long as one doesn’t try to illegally cross the border, North Korea cannot directly influence your livelihood.

Natural Disaster


South Korea is rarely struck by huge disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and tsunamis.  Japan and China experience such disasters, but it doesn’t affect the Korean peninsula. At most, storms and floods occur during the monsoon season (June~August), but developed irrigation systems have managed these problems well. During spring, it is advised to stay inside with windows shut when levels of yellow dust is high.



The crime rate in South Korea is so low that the Korean streets feel safe. Guns are illegal and rare, risk of terrorism is low, and murder is seldom. Night time in the city is relatively safer than Western cities, as businesses, schools and shops open till late. Crimes which do occur are non-violent, but still serious like sexual assault and cybercrime. Petty street crimes are more likely to occur in heavily crowded locations, such as the city or markets. Staying safe mainly comprises of avoiding potentially dangerous situations such as protests and demonstrations which can get violent. Like any city, if you are not careful, you are an easy target to anyone.



In developed parts of Korea, animals rarely roam free. Dangerous wildlife is so uncommon that you could live a lifetime in Korea without having a single dangerous animal encounter. In grassy and swampy parts of the forest and mountainous regions, wild insects and animals exist, but they are often reluctant to attack and not aggressive. It is important to be careful where you walk, and to avoid animals in the wild.



The most commonly believed hoax in Korea is ‘fan death’. It is the belief that sleeping in a closed room with the fan running will cause death by asphyxiation or hypothermia. It is based on the fact that a fan directly on the face can make breathing difficult and lower body temperature too much. To prevent death, believers of this myth have turned their fans off, set it on a timer or kept a door open. It has not been scientifically proven and cannot kill.


Every country has its good and bad areas and everyone has different experiences, however South Korea is a safe country with no big risk of danger. Situational awareness and a greater understanding of Korea will prevent any dangerous encounters, and you will be able to visit this beautiful country with a peace of mind. Don’t ruin your time by being exposed to minor dangers and stay safe.


South Korea Emergency Phone Numbers:

112 for the police .

119 for emergency fire and hospital

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  1. 1
    Francis Oh

    The “fan death” is my favorite. To this day, every Korean I’ve spoken to swears by this including my parents. For a while, even I believed it having heard it so many times, “do NOT sleep with the fan on, you WILL die” 😮

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