175 COMMENTS

Wow! It feels like forever since we filmed this video! We made it before we went on our Mexico/California trip, because we planned on putting some stuff up while we were gone. Turns out that we put up our Mexico trip video instead, and wanted to save this (and another) video for the week when we got back from our trips, when we’d be jet-lagged and exhausted. Hooray! Turns out that it’s actually quite good timing, because now we’re getting over some nasty pink-eye as well, and if we had to film something now we’d look like vampires: not the sexy, True Blood kind, with pushup bras and six packs. More like, the dirty, just got turned into a vampire kind, with our eyes glowing red from hunger for blood. Except our eyes would be glowing red from pink-eye.

Side note: having pink eye makes looking at the screen as we type very, very difficult, so we’re typing most of this with our eyes closed. WE GOT SICK WICKED TYPING SKILLLLZZZZ. At the same time, if we have a lot of errors here, forgive us. We’re not really doing a lot of editing in our blog post this time.

Aaaaanyhow, CRIME IN KOREA! I think we mentioned before how completely safe we feel here compared to how we feel back in Toronto. Again, we don’t want to make it seem that because we feel so safe here that we didn’t feel safe in Toronto, or that anyone should draw the conclusion that because Korea feels safer to us that Toronto is a wild jungle of crime and murder and mugging. That’s not the case at all. We lived perfectly fine and content in Toronto. We just feel like there are things we don’t have to worry about here in Korea like we did in Toronto. Here in Korea, we haven’t seen any Rob-Me-Please ATMs. Don’t know what those are? Those are ATM machines in public that you feel like, well, maybe taking money out at this spot right here…maybe that isn’t the best idea. We don’t see vandalism here in Korea as well. Graffiti is barely anywhere. Things aren’t broken or smashed randomly. And we just never hear about gun-crime in the news, like a random person going into the mall and shooting it up. Sure, that’s exceptionally rare in Canada as well, but here in Korea, we just never hear about it at all.

I hope Canadians don’t get offended by this. We’re not trying to paint it in a negative light, though its contrast with Korea might make it seem that way. We still love Canada and all. We feel a lot safer in cars in Canada and don’t feel like we’re going to get mowed down every time we cross the street, like we do in Korea. And we’re sure there’s organized crime here in Korea that’s mega-nasty. We…just haven’t experienced anything like it at all here, and haven’t even seen traces of it in public.

Yeah! Hopefully that made sense. And if we said anything off, we blame the pink-eye! Also, we’re sure that your experiences are muuuuch different than ours, so let us know in the comments what your experiences in Korea or in your home country are like. Our own personal experiences are by no means definitive, but hopefully we can get a bunch of people here talking about what their experiences are like :D

ToFebruary
  1. HAHA, omg, I thought I was the only one that did the Wolverine key thing!

  2. Since Halloween is coming up, do you have any good Korean ghost stories to share?

  3. My and my cousin actually had this discussion with a mutual friend before who thought Korean entertainment was mostly the violent/disturbing movies… because that’s all they saw on Netflix. But actually most Koreans watch variety tv shows and dramas… not usually the dark and disturbing movies. The dark/disturbing Korean films are just what’s found a niche market in places like the US and grew popular.

    But recently, because of the Hallyu wave, more dramas are getting onto Netflix, so people are seeing more true Korean entertainment of what people usually watch on a daily basis. There are also a lot of comedic or sappy movies in Korea… like “Sunny” is a popular newer one. There’s a popular film industry in Korea that is thriving, but it seems like the main entertainment revolves more around variety tv & dramas.

    A great resource for looking up Korean movies & tv shows, actors, etc… is http://www.hancinema.net which is sort of like imdb for Korean entertainment.

    I’m not sure if you’ve seen any other Korean films or dramas or tv shows, but some great places to watch them are:

    http://www.dramafever.com
    http://www.viki.com
    http://www.dramacrazy.net

    And a Korean variety show that’s really awesome & super popular in Korea right now is called Running Man, which you can watch at http://runningmanclub.blogspot.com

    Hope I helped answer your question, even though I’m not Simon & Martina. Lol.

  4. I live in Texas too! East Texas. We don’t own a gun either although we have begun talking about buying one. Aaaanywho…. where did you teach in Korea? Your kids sound so sweet! And how did you prepare to teach them? Meaning how did you prepare your curriculum and where did you find resources?

  5. If I went to Korea, what would they think of me? I have freckles and I know that they are very concerned with their skin. Also, just curious, what do they think of gingers haha

  6. Would you be able to talk a little about culture shock and homesickness..? It’s a depressing topic, but I find that it effects a lot of people moving to a different environment (myself included)… Do you know anyone who has felt this badly or know any good tips for adjusting to life in another country? =人=

  7. I’ve felt very similar to Simon and Martina about the safeness of walking around outside, day or night. If you’re on the main streets by yourself you really have nothing to worry about in terms of getting robbed or feeling threatened. For women, I would put out the concern of drunken men, especially since I’m currently going to college where there’s a lot of bars and motels in the area. Just have street smarts and you’ll be fine. As for the not seeing graffiti broken bottles, etc, most places don’t have that. If you’re in the bar areas around universities such as Hongdae or Kondae, you definitely will. I’ve seen mixed reviews of Itaewon. I was really looking forward to going to the area when I came over however being there a few times, day and night, I really don’t care for the area. I only go to get a quick bite to eat, and not alone. I get a weird vibe when wondering the streets since it’s definitely an “alternative” place to go. At night, there are transgender bars, and prostitution happens in the back streets. You can definitely stay away from that, however, I’d much prefer other areas to club and as well as staying away from the military men.

  8. you’re gangsters and Toronto is harlem! Got it!!

    hahah jk jk.. But I have been to Korea and I was out with friends at noraebang till 4am and then we decided to go to Dongdaemun (shopping district) and it was super safe.. Im from NY so I was like “ok middle of the night NY radar alert!!” but then i was like wait? there are people studying at coffee shops and old women getting vegetable stands ready.. this is super NOT NY alert mode.. needless to say i was confused. Only 1 incident happened to a friend who got punched by a crazy ajushi.. but im pretty sure he was a legit crazy person and it was the only thing i heard bad that happened on our trip.. i felt super safe.. way more than i feel in NY…

  9. I actually feel exactly the same way as you guys, but trying to explain it to my family is so difficult. My home town is really quiet (Brisbane, Australia) but there’s still things I wouldn’t do: walk around by myself after 11pm, go down certain streets or into parks after dark, walk around with my wallet or phone hanging out of my bag etc. But when I’m in Korea all that goes out the window and suddenly I’m wandering around Hongdae on a Wednesday night at like 2-3am by myself and heading down tiny dark alleys being all “lalalalalaaaa”. And given that I’m a very small and clearly weak girl – that’s saying something about how safe Korea is.

  10. I’ve never been to Asia, but I have traveled most of Europe and parts of South America, and there were some cities where I could wander the streets until o’dark thirty in the morning and not be bothered by anybody, while in other places the locals cautioned me not to even set my purse down by my feet under the table at a cafe because thieves were known to wander by and snatch them right up!

    Guess it all depends on where you are! The vibe was often different from city to city even within the same country.

  11. I have noticed Koreans tend not to worry too much about crime when they come over to America to study. I worked in the library on campus while I was in college and it was always the Korean kids who left their laptops out on desks and tables out in the open for hours on end before they came back to get them. Some even left them there overnight.

    We’d often pick them up and put them behind the front desk for safe keeping, but it confused them as to why we did that. We’d always try to explain that it could have been stolen but they really didn’t grasp that concept.
    It is a fairly safe library in a small city but it was also open to the public and there was always the chance someone could have just walked in and walked out with a new laptop.
    On the other hand American kids always took their things with them, I never once had to hide their things behind the front desk.

  12. Damn, a free car AND a free baby? That’s pretty good.

  13. Are fans crazier in Korea more than anywhere else?

  14. Hello Martina and Simon. I’ve read and heard countless of rumors about the extent of discrimination in South Korea in terms of race, but more specifically the color of the skin. My first assumption about this would be that it is true, only because there is so much talk in Korea about how the fairer the skin, the more beautiful you are perceived to be. I was wondering if that really is the case in South Korea and how bad it really is if it is true? If so, does being a foreigner with darker skin make you more unacceptable in Korean society?

  15. Well I am form the Netherlands and hearing that the crime rate is low in Korea, is nice to hear. The only thing I hear here on the news lately is students taking a gun to school and shoot you teacher and other students. Young people who murder or taking knives with them to school,, O_o” Guys where is the world going!? Is that the new kind of jokes? And you do not have to walk over the street here at night, or you see some gangsters walking around. So hearing that about in Korea, I wish it was the same here.

  16. I think that anecdotal evidence isn’t really something to rely on in this case. Although you may not have the crime statistics memorized, they are a really quick google search away.

    Although it’s true that cases of robbery, burglary, and theft are higher in Canada than Korea, instances of violent crimes (intentional homicide, rape, and assault) are actually higher in Korea than Canada.

    I’m not trying to be contradictory, I just know from experience (although admittedly not in Korea) that sometimes living abroad can give you a skewed sense of safety. Sometimes a foreign country can feel safer because you are limited in what you are exposed to and can understand. That kind of false security can be dangerous, especially if you live alone! :D

    • I think Majority of the violent crimes you mentioned are often crimes of passion and not directed to strangers (at least in Korea). The sense of safety is often related to the rate of random crimes. So Canadians should feel more concerned than Koreans to walk street at night.

      • I wasn’t suggesting that Canadians or Koreans should feel less or more concerned while walking down the street. I don’t really care if Korea is “safer” than Canada, or vice versa I was suggesting that you should be careful no matter where you live, because it’s easy for people living abroad to fall into a false sense of security.

  17. how about classical music training? I’m a professional “classical” musician in the States. I’ve heard teaching music in Korea is a possibility.

  18. Wolverine key thing!!! Yeahhh!!!

  19. i remember seeing my neighbor get water ballooned by random guys driving by while trying to be cool in their loud car

  20. Can you cover about sport in Korea…I’m interested in finding out about ice hockey in Korea…do girls actively play too?

  21. I’m only slightly qualified to answer this, seeing as I wrote a paper on it last year. There are quite a few factors but the ones I focused on were the educational pressures and the pressures to succeed. There’s a lot of pressure in SK to succeed, and sometimes the pressure becomes too much for a person to stand and something (a bad grade on a very important test perhaps or a coworker getting the promotion they expected) ends up driving them over that edge to suicide. That’s just a little insight, but I have statistics and sources and such. ^^

  22. Did my study abroad for 6 months in Suwon and Seoul and I never felt unsafe whatsoever during my stay. And that is including my nightly routine of stumbling back to my dorm drunk at 4 am, across a totally abandoned and pitch dark campus. Not even when going out in Itaewon with all the foreigners around did I feel unsafe. For one, it’s because the streets are always packed with people. And there is always a 7/11 at every corner so I felt like I was never alone or at least help was always nearby if I need it.

    Secondly, there are just so many things to do when you’re out, so I can’t imagine vandalism or loitering out of boredom in Korea. Kids are always in them PC bangs and karaoke rooms. There are UFO catchers on the streets, stores stay open till late, plenty of entertainment. I just don’t see reason for Koreans to be dissatisfied about life to result to street violence. There is a lot of drinking and public drunkenness, but even so, I never witnessed a fight. Usually their friends would have stopped the argument before things could escalate or the drunks are simply ignored when they try to provoke ppl.

    As for the sense of crime.. Here’s my episode. It was my first week in Suwon and I was drunkenly finding my way back to the dorms after having lost my friends when a guy stopped in the streets. He was like “AYYY GUURRLL! What are you doing out here at 4 am, it’s dangerous. Let me buy you a drink!” (For realz. I’m not making shit up). So he just dragged me into a nearby alley and up a small shady bar. He was then on the telephone and 5 minutes later 4 other guys showed up. I was freaked out and tried to get the hell out of there, but they insisted that it was dangerous for me to go out alone and wouldn’t let me leave. 10 minutes later they suddenly dragged me out and there was a car waiting at the door. They pushed me into the car and all got on.

    To my surprise, a few minutes later I was dropped off at my dorm where all international students stayed, and the boys took off just like that. In a western country, the ending of that night would have been very different.

    The next day was actually Chuseok . A phone call woke me up at around 9AM and it was the Korean dude from last night. I guess I gave it to him when I was drunk. He said that he was in front of my dorm and told me to come down. Everything about this screamed ‘stalker!’ but I had to get rid of him so I went down.

    Man did I feel guilty when I saw him. He had brought fresh coffee and a bag with all kinds of Korean food his family made for Chuseok. He figured that since I was new in Korea that I wouldn’t know about the stores being closed on Chuseok so he brought me food just in case. (I’m never gonna think any bad about a stranger ever again!)
    I felt so sorry that I was hung over at that time and couldn’t invite him inside because of the dorm’s rule. Naturally, he became one of my best friends in Korea and we are now still in touch.

    Another story is the time I went to Busan. We went eating at this massive hall above the Jagalchi fish market where they serve everything fresh from the tank. It looked like they had 100 seating areas there. Apparently whole dining hall closes up at 8 or at least pretty early. So we just had our dinner served when the lady came by and asked us to pay. Within minutes the hall was completely empty, but no one had told us to leave. We could have trashed the place, we could have emptied the soju fridge! But being good Christians we just finished our dinner, placed the dishes in the sink and left. There was no security, no surveillance cameras as far as I can see; any one could have walked in or out freely. Korea is amazing!

  23. Hi! Just wanted to throw my two cents in. I live in Texas too and perhaps it’s just where I live (in a suburb of Dallas), but my family does not/has never had a gun in our home and most of my friends and their families don’t either. (We’ve discussed it. Perhaps we’re all just weird? lol) That being said, there is still gun crime hanging around, but it’s mostly like you said like in a normal ghetto/gang area. Plus these things usually happen late at night, so no one I know walks around late alone. I’ve totally done the Wolverine Key thing, because even if there’s no gun involved, you WILL get jumped. It’s not 100% or anything, but it’s still common enough that I would NEVER walk around alone at night.

  24. I don’t live in Korea (I live in Hong Kong) but I did visit Seoul during the summer and definitely agree with your viewpoint! I didn’t feel scared at all when I was out walking alone even though I was in a foreign city I’d never been to before. The only time I was a little nervous was walking back to my hotel from the subway past all these drunken business men, however I had been brandishing my umbrella so I felt protected. xD I live in Hong Kong and also feel very safe here, the only times I feel like “Oh goodness, I need to hold onto my purse” is when I’m in very crowded marketplaces or in little side alleys….or Mong Kok/Wanchai at night. To me, Asia feels very safe even though my city in the States was not unsafe, there were things to look out for (Coyotes eating dogs being one…) and gangsters and robberies, however since I’ve come to HK I feel so safe.

  25. Nah I have the same feeling about Vancouver as you do about the safety in Toronto. No offence taken.

  26. Is it possible to live in Korea and not drink? I really want to look into a teaching job there, but I don’t drink alcohol and I’m afraid that since it’s such a part of the culture (especially in work situations) it would be really hard to do so and people would get offended, etc. Surely there have to be some people in Korea that don’t drink? Are they just considered social rejects? XD

    • Hi! I don’t drink for medical reasons and I lived in Korea for 2 years and am going back again. A lot of the Koreans I knew didn’t drink and rarely was I pressured to drink. It’s pretty much like living anywhere else–people might ask why you don’t drink, but they’ll let you to whatever your personal choice is. There are a ton of things to do in Korea that don’t involve alcohol so don’t let that deter you!

  27. KIwiS! hihi~!! thank for the video!

  28. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcLNteez3c4&feature=relmfu Have you seen it? I cant decide if I like/dont like it… Can you explain why the vowels have changed…
    I really like psy’s enthusiasm… I dont know if I like Hyna’s sexy approach too much.

  29. This is funny to me because I live in Chicago and to me Toronto feels like the land of safety. I was in Montreal for a few days this summer and was delighted to find I could walk back to my hotel at night and not feel like death was imminent. I’m not saying that Chicago is terrible, I love Chicago and I love living here, but by necessity I’ve become wary. I really notice it when I’m in a safer city. So if you Torontonians (?) feel safer in Seoul than in Toronto, I can’t even imagine how I would feel.

  30. Hey Simon and Martina was wondering if your going to post the Kcon video soon and maybe a video of all the things you guys got. Also it was a pleasure meeting you guys! Martina you always look so pretty, and Simon i feel really bad that you were soooo sick! Thanks for wearing bright and smiley faces for us! I hope i get to meet you guys again in the near future! I hope you guys get well soon!

  31. There is alot of pressure here to be the best and perform your job or duties extremely well and koreans feel like complete failures and it seems that the society is not as forgiving to people that may be slightly different (monoculture, not much diversity AT all especially outside of Seoul and Busan). As a foreign teacher who has taught at public school and hagwons (tutoring schools), the hagwons had that culture as well and I failed terribly to conform to what they wanted but thankfully I was brought up that it was ok to be different and moved on.

  32. While it is true that most white people seen here (Philippines) can be believed to be rich, there are lots of well-populated places to hang out without feeling in danger of kidnapping :) And I think your mom’s friend is just being cautious–in truth, as long as you’re aware of your surroundings (something that applies to all places around the world, I think), you’ll be fine.

    I do know that because we have so much military unrest in the south (Mindanao), many would-be tourists and visitors think that the Philippines is a hotbed of war and violence :/

    • Yeah. I had a great time there. We went to Cavite (I think it’s spelled that way?) because that’s where my mother grew up. I’m not sure if that’s a safe spot or not, but it was fun. And the food! I miss the food so much… my mother cooks Filipino food for us, but it’s not the same when you have to use American ingredients.

  33. I got hit by a car when I lived in Korea…while I was walking on a crosswalk. Apparently I was really nice for not demanding money on the spot. Also a dirty old man felt me up once…I was told I was too kind in that situation as well because I didn’t get him fired. A mentally challenged girl also just randomly walked up and punched me in the stomach…while I was walking down the street in the middle of the day… Lol. And I still tell people Korea is a really safe place. I think I think I’m just a trouble magnet.

  34. I had the same question (and trying to see how I could instill happy thoughts into my elementary Korean students’ minds)… and I came across this video being made by an American exchange student in a Korean high school. She talks with a lot of her fellow students and sheds some person light on those questions. Check out the trailer! It’s definitely worth it:
    http://koreanhighschool.com/

  35. I’m currently studying in South Korea at a University on an exchange program. I have to agree I feel ridiculously safe here. I got to school in D.C. and the area I’m in is REALLY safe since it’s practically residential but if I go out to go to a club or something in a different part of the city I always have to go in a group. Although I’ve heard from my friends here that Itaewon can be kind of sketchy especially at night. I’ve never personally been so I was wondering if there’s any truth to that?

    • A nigth out clubbing in Itaewon may be a bit intimidating, but I blame that on the foreigners. You just don’t know how they will behave when they’re drunk. Koreans.. I know they just lie down on the street and sleep it off.
      But you’ll mostly find the American people from the military base in Itaewon and most of the people I’ve encountered were pretty relaxed.

  36. I also feel very safe living in Korea. This is my second year, and while I’m now living in a very busy area with a lot of clubs and bars, I’m thankfully a bit off the main drag, and don’t feel at all uncomfortable walking home even late at night. I do, however, keep a weather eye out for drunken ahjusshis, just in case they want to cause problems.

  37. i live in southern californina, pretty close to the beach. and during the day i feel relatively safe. i could walk alone through the streets (not without some catcalls though) the park, and the beach no problem. but there are some places that make me nervous. like the street over from my house is called ‘Slater Slums’. theres a reason a police station was put around the corner there.. as for the park, you can NOT go in to the park when it gets dark. its a law that you cant go in after 8 but everyone knows better than to go in when it gets dark. druggies, muggers, and homeless people tend to wander the parks at night. anyway! i love my city regardless because its clean, people are nice, and has many options for fun (:

    Simon! Martina! this TLDR had me thinking. Is there catcalling in korea? have you, martina, ever experienced it? or have either of you seen it happen? ive experienced it many times and cant tell you how much i hate it. and i dont think id like it even in a different language >.<

  38. i think this is in China not in korea ^^’ my teacher said this about China and how children traffic is there…

  39. Really? Maybe it’s because I live in Old Toronto, but I always feel completely safe in my area, even after dark… And I haven’t even experienced half the stuff they said they had…

  40. I don’t know about Korea, but Simon and Martina are absolutely right about Toronto. During the day, I would say you could walk anywhere alone, and even at night, most places are still completely safe. When they say that Korea is safer than Toronto, it means that they’ve seen NOTHING. I don’t know about the US, but Toronto is amazingly safe.

    Also, Simon and Martina, when you come back to Canada, please please please be the people who roll up to Tims blasting SuJu!

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