Seoul Warnings and Dangers
You’ll enjoy visiting Seoul, the bright and busy capital city of South Korea. Before you go, take a look at some warnings about dangers you may encounter in the city so that you can prepare adequately.
Don’t assume that there will always be someone around who speaks English when you need them. English is mandatory in Korean schools, but that’s only been the case for about a decade. Many older Koreans still don’t speak English. When you do see English words in shops or on signs, they may be mixed with Korean in a way that makes little sense to you.
If you’re not traveling with a Korean-speaking person who can translate for you, it’s a good idea to try to learn some basic Korean phrases before you travel. Many college students speak English and are happy to speak to tourists because it’s good practice, but you may have to approach them and ask for help first – many will be too shy to approach you.
Protesting is part of the culture in South Korea, and particularly in Seoul, much like it is in the US. You may see demonstrations near government buildings, military bases, embassies, and universities. Most protests are mild and non-violent, and there is typically a watchful police presence. However, any protest carries with it the possibility that it could get out of hand. It’s best to avoid the areas where the protesting is occurring.
Demonstrations are typically scheduled ahead of time, so it’s possible to find out if there are going to be any and plan around them if you need to. Your hotel concierge should be able to let you know if there are areas that you should avoid.
Both driving and walking can be hazardous in Seoul if you don’t know what to expect. If you’re walking, you should be aware that you may be sharing the sidewalks with motorbikes. When the roads are busy, it’s not uncommon for the bikers to use the nearest available pavement, even if there are already people walking there. When crossing the street, use extreme caution – even at a crosswalk, you will find that some cars keep going even if they have a stop light.
The streets in Seoul can be narrow, steep, and full of sharp corners. Children sometimes play in the roads, so be careful. Winter driving can be particularly hazardous. The snow may not stick to the road for long, but it will melt and refreeze, resulting in hazardous icy patches. You can also expect to see large traffic jams on the main roads. If you’re nervous about driving in Seoul, the subway is a reliable, affordable, and safe alternative.
Seoul is an interesting city and you’re sure to have a good time while you’re there. Being aware of the possible hazards you may encounter will help you plan properly for your trip so that you can avoid problems.
Editor’s Note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about warnings and dangers in Seoul.