10 Most Dangerous Cities in South Korea

Updated On October 10, 2023
South Korea

While South Korea tends to be a popular destination for travelers from everywhere in the world, it has its fair share of unsafe areas like any other country.

With a crime rate of 3,311 crimes per 100,000 people, it has a high enough rate to consider when planning your South Korean trip.

Of course, if you want to travel to this country, the crime rate shouldn’t deter you.

With careful planning, you can have a fun and enjoyable trip to South Korea without incident.

10 Most Dangerous Cities in South Korea



With a nickname like “Gotham Daegu,” you can imagine that this city isn’t one of the safest.

According to an article by koreaboo.com, this city tops the charts in crime as the 10th most dangerous city out of 17 regions.

In terms of non-violent crimes, it has a whopping rate of 306.7 per thousand.

This puts it in third place for high crime in South Korea.

As a pretty large city, Daegu can feel overwhelming.

Overall, you can stay safe by sticking to populated routes while walking.

You can also keep your valuables secure by leaving expensive jewelry at home and locking the windows properly when you leave your hotel.



With a higher crime rate than Daegu, Chungcheongbuk-do is less safe than the top of our list.

Its crime rate is about 1,020 per 100,000. Since two cities, known as Chungju and Cheongj, make up this area, that may be why the crime rate is higher.

When walking or traveling, it’s best to avoid areas on the outskirts of this region.

These areas tend to have narrow roads and fewer tourist attractions.

This can make them especially unsafe after dark. 



In Gwangju, you’ll find that the violent crime rate is about 106 cases per 10,000.

For non-violent crimes, the rate goes up to 217.7 per 1000.

This makes the city take fifth place in crime rates in South Korea.

If you want to stay safe in this area, your best bet is to stick to populated places.

If you are traveling alone, you should also avoid going places alone at night like you would in any city.

Familiarize yourself with places that locals suggest avoiding, as well.



Although Ulsan is not as unsafe as some other places, it has its pockets of danger. 

The crime rate for this city is 107.4 per 10,000.

As the “Industrial Capital” of South Korea, it may feel less tourist-friendly than some other areas.

This could make some parts of it feel less safe to someone from out of town or from out of the country.

The biggest safety concern in this area is pollution rather than crime.

If you have asthma or other breathing problems, it may be best to avoid this area as a whole.



Like much of South Korea, Gangwon is safe compared to many places in the world, but less safe compared to other areas in Korea.

With a crime rate of 108.5 cases per 10,000 people, it’s important to stay aware of your surroundings in this area.

As with most South Korean towns, the best way to stay safe here is by hanging around the more populated areas.

The less populated or developed somewhere is, the less safe it tends to be by South Korean standards.



Sitting in the middle on the safety scale, Incheon has a crime rate of 109 cases per 10,000 people.

If you are spending time touring Incheon, you may notice that the area near the Art Center can feel a little sketchier than other parts of the region.

To stay safe, you may want to avoid staying in one of the local motels and pay more for a safer experience in a hotel.

While the motels may be okay for a night or two, they are more likely to bring in a mixed bag of residents.

Some of these residents may not have the noblest plans in mind.



With an unusually high crime rate for South Korea, Busan ranks close to the top of the list.

Its violent crime rate soars to 408.9 cases per 100,000. Nearby towns and cities have a fraction of this crime rate.

This means that if you are planning on traveling to Busan, you may want to stay in one of the safer nearby towns such as Yeongdo or Saha.

If you must stay or travel in Busan, stay in well-populated parts of the city near the center.

In this city, you will be more likely to encounter petty criminals who want to pick your pockets or otherwise disturb your peace.

Keeping your valuable items like credit cards or cash in different pockets can help you avoid losing everything if you do become the victim of this kind of crime.

In this region, some areas are safer than others.

The Jung-gu area is considered one of the least safe, so you should stay aware of your surroundings when visiting.



With a hefty crime rate of 112.34 cases per 10,000 people, Daejeon is one of the more dangerous cities in South Korea.

While it boasts a high quality of life for its residents and low traffic, it still has unsafe areas everywhere.

If you stay here, you may find that downtown and other central areas feel safer because of higher populations.

Once you get into the outskirts of the city, the cost of living is lower, but safety may be lower as well.



As with most countries, South Korea’s highest-ranking city for danger tends to be the capital, Seoul.

The Jung district specifically has a high crime rate of 377.7 violent crimes per 100,000 people.

Since it is in the same district as other dangerous areas like Busan and Daegu, it’s best to take caution while visiting Seoul.

If you want to avoid violent crime, you should avoid the southwestern parts of Seoul and its borders.

Sometimes paying more for accommodation in the middle of the action can make you feel more secure as a traveler, too. 

Jeju Island
Jeju Island

Jeju Island

Most people who are familiar with traveling through South Korea would recommend taking caution when visiting the Jeju Autonomous Province.

Its 158 cases per 10,000 people crime rate soars above many other areas.

Murder in particular has been a problem in the area for almost a decade.

Unless you have a specific reason to visit here, you may want to avoid it.

Weather conditions such as high winds can make it dangerous outside of crime, as well.

5 Safety Tips for Traveling to South Korea

  1. Make sure your belongings are on your person or nearby at all times. This lowers the chance that your items will be stolen when you look away for a moment.
  2. Decline offers of consumable items and cigarettes from people you don’t know. When strangers offer you drinks, food, candy, or smokable items, you don’t know how they were prepared. Because of this, they could be laced with disgusting or unsafe substances.
  3. Always keep a watchful eye on meals and beverages. For the same reason that you shouldn’t take food from strangers, you shouldn’t leave your food or drink alone in the company of strangers.
  4. Stay aware of your surroundings during night-time travel as a pedestrian. Sometimes the best deterrent for crime is being aware of the possibility of it. Keeping a watchful eye will alert you to red flags before a crime actually happens.
  5. Stick with other travelers as much as you can. If you are traveling solo or with a small group, it might not be realistic to always have a travel buddy. Still, if you are going somewhere at night, at least let your group know where you are going and when you intend to return. If you can, take someone with you on trips at night or save your trips out for the daytime.

South Korea Safety Overview

READ THE FULL REPORT: South Korea Safety Review

Safety Index:

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe for women to travel alone in South Korea?

In South Korea, most women feel safe traveling alone or with a group.

The culture is considered welcoming and friendly.

As long as you keep your wits about yourself and follow travel safety, you should be okay to travel solo as a woman in South Korea.

If it’s your first time in the country, a travel companion may help you feel at ease.

What is the legal age to travel alone in South Korea?

In South Korea, youth who are at least 12 years old are permitted to travel by themselves through air travel.

They can only do this on Korean Air on flights that allow it.

Also, you may need to pay an extra fee for the solo youth traveler if they are under 17.

Is South Korea safe for Americans?

Tourists from any country will find South Korea’s low crime rate comforting.

In general, the culture is welcoming and accepting of American tourists.

As long as you are respectful of the country and its people, you can expect a safe, enjoyable experience in South Korea.

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