Safety and Security in Korea
South Korea is very safe and you should not worry much about security, but be aware that theft, assault and burglary may happen in major cities. Take care when going to touristic locations and only take official taxis. Drugs are illegal in South Korean and penalties for the ones who are possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs include jail sentences, heavy fines, and deportation at the end of their sentence.
■ Emergency services
Fire, Emergency and Ambulance: 119 – English/Japanese/Chinese speakers are redirected to the Korea National Tourist Organization, which will translate everything via a three-way call. Ambulances are free of charge.
Police: 112 – only in Korean. Try calling to 1330 (Translation Service) for help.
Medical information: (02) 1339 – English-speaking doctors are available to advise you on how to proceed in case of emergency and where to find the closest pharmacy and/or hospital
International students who are going to stay in Korea for more than a year are eligible for the National Health Insurance Corporation’s health insurance, the same South Koreans nationals use. To apply, send a copy of your alien registration card and verification of the purpose of stay to one of their offices.
South Korean hospitals have a good reputation and there are western and eastern (traditional) style hospitals along the country.
■ Political situation
South Korea official name is Republic of Korea. Its head of state is the president. South Korea is a presidential representative democratic republic of a multi-party system. The country’s constitution has undergone five major revisions since 1948 (republic proclamation) and the last one was in 1987. South Korea has a stable and strong economy and it is one of the Asian Tigers.
■ Short trip
You can easily travel by express train or air in South Korea. Some of the famous destinations are Busan, a port city where you can enjoy the beach, Jeju, a romantic island to spend time with your loved one (also, the home of the highest mountain in South Korea), and Seoraksan National Park, a Biosphere Preservation District by UNESCO where you can enjoy hiking. These are just a few options: South Korea is a small country, but there’s a lot to be done and seen there.
■ Mobile phone networks
No one should worry about South Korea’s mobile phone networks. The country is investing about US$1.5 billion on 5G mobile network since the beginning of 2014. South Korea is the most connected country in the world. You can purchase your cellphone at Korea Telecom, LG U Plus or SK Telecom, the last one sharing 50% of the market.