South Korea can be a very safe place to live and work for a year – which is why there are so many people taking advantage of the English teaching opportunities in the country. While the country is well known for being safe, you should still know about the area that you will be in, regardless of whether you are going to be a visitor or a resident.
Various natural disasters have been known to hit South Korea, but you are likely not in that much risk. There are volcanoes, earthquakes and typhoons. There is only one active volcano and it is located on the Korean peninsula between North Korea and China. It hasn’t erupted for more than 100 years, though it is said to erupt about every 100 years. There’s usually plenty of warning and it likely wouldn’t be anywhere near where you are staying. Earthquakes are rare – and when they do occur, they are weak. There are greater ones in California – and some Koreans have gone a lifetime without experiencing one. Their typhoons are similar to hurricanes and the typhoon season goes from May through November. In many instances, it provides a wet and windy atmosphere without anything too dramatic otherwise.
Crime occurs in Korea just like anywhere else. Violent street crime is rare, so there’s no worry of beatings, kidnapping or mugging. Additionally, guns are highly illegal and pretty much non-existent outside of the military and police force. As for non-violent crimes such as theft and robbery, they are more common.
The traffic is another area where you need to be aware. Cars and taxis alike can be very aggressive with pedestrians, so it’s best to be careful when walking down the road. If you see a signal to allow you to walk, exercise caution. As for taxi drivers, you usually don’t have to worry. Some tourists have complained that they were swindled by unethical taxi drivers but overall taxis in Korea are quite safe for locals and tourists alike.
News about North Korea can make it seem less than desirable to visit South Korea. However, the majority of the news is blown out of proportion. Not much has happened to the general public in South Korea since the Korean War. The average person pays no mind to the neighbors of the north, so there’s no reason for you to, either.
Note: It’s always good practice to register with your respective Embassy before going abroad. Once you’re registered your own government will know you’re abroad and living, travelling or working abroad. When you go over to South Korea to live and work for a year, you will be as safe as can be – as long as you use some common sense. While there may be different things to worry about in terms of natural disasters and traffic than at home, it’s nothing too far out of the ordinary – and risks are very low.