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A Warning & Reminder About Safety

This is intended as a public service, as to warn and remind people about opening their door to strangers, here in Korea.

While South Korea is a much safer place to live than many other cities I’ve lived in, there can still be problems that need to be avoided, for example: early this morning, I was awakened by the door bell and the sound of my young daughter talking to someone at the door.  When I came out, there was a man standing outside the doorway, wearing a black and white striped rugby-style shirt.  The man caught a glimpse of me and ran off.  This man claimed that he was from the water company and that there was a leak in my bathroom.

There is NO LEAK and water company workers DO NOT make house calls on Sundays nor do they show up without a prior invitation from home owners.

About the author: Psst, want to buy some used marble cheap?

  • dww

    that is fucked.

  • redwhitedude

    Looks like you avoided a potential crime from being committed. I guess if a country is safe people tend to let their guard down.

  • R. Elgin

    I chewed out my daughter for even opening the door to talk especially since we have a video device on the door. I asked her if she wanted to get cut up into parts and put into bloody buckets as she cried, bloody hell.

    This is yet another perpetrator that will not get caught until the 7th, 8th or 9th time of having done something like this too.

  • http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/ Jeffery Hodges

    He might be on video, Elgin.

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

  • Yeongung

    I know I felt safe in Korea. Worst thing I had to deal with was drunk people outside my apartment.

    Anyway, what Mr. Hodges said might be worth looking into. Can you lodge some sort of police complaint about the guy?

    Glad you all are ok.

  • http://bcarr.com Brendon Carr

    What do you think about that 2d Amendment now?

  • Anonymous Joe

    >>”What do you think about that 2d Amendment now?”

    I’m glad he didn’t have a gun.

  • Song

    I think you misunderstand this situation. I guessman was trying to repair but different apt. He was likely shy because of his mistake and lack of English. Please dont make a bad assumptions and please make an effort to understand a different culture.

  • Dokdoforever

    Check the video camera in the elevator or the first floor lobby. Someone stole a bike in our building and they printed a still-frame shot of the guy and posted it throughout the complex.

  • http://bcarr.com Brendon Carr

    I think you misunderstand this situation.

    In my business “misunderstanding” means you caught me.

  • Seth Gecko

    Misunderstanding or not, I’m glad that your daughter is safe. And I agree with scaring the hell out of her to keep her safe in the future.

  • R. Elgin

    What do you think about that 2d Amendment now?

    I’m wearing a T-shirt so both my arms are bare, besides, I have a lovely long and sharp straight razor and am willing to shave any stranger that wants a shave.

  • http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/ Jeffery Hodges

    Song wrote:

    “I think you misunderstand this situation. I guessman was trying to repair but different apt. He was likely shy because of his mistake and lack of English. Please dont make a bad assumptions and please make an effort to understand a different culture.”


    I know you know nothing about Korea. The repairman was trying to repair a different apartment though action at a distance, a Newtonian concept — like gravity or magnetism. The repairman was embarrassed because he saw that you were a Westerner who probably did not understand Newtonian concepts anymore because you were an Einsteinian — or worse, a quantum mechanist — so he ran away from the unfamiliar paradigm. Please never think about danger from Koreans, and try to understand that we are different and would never chop anyone into pieces unless we have been corrupted by Chinese culture!.

    Hope that helps . . .

    Jeffery odges

    * * *

  • http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/ Jeffery Hodges

    Eh, what happened to the aitch?

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

  • PekingMan

    RE Song’s comment: For the love of God! I’m pretty sure almost any Korean given that situation would at least feel it suspicious. A classic case of negation of a point of view simply coz it comes from a 외국인.

    Perhaps it is you who does not understand? After all, this involved his daughter, do you have children? Were you to have maybe you’d be more inclined to agree with Elgin and less caught up on his DNA…

  • R. Elgin

    P.S. “Song” could be correct too, after all, the response she writes about is a very human response and makes sense to me. I would rather suffer an innocent mistake than a real psychopath any day.

  • dww

    >>”What do you think about that 2d Amendment now?”

    I’m glad he didn’t have a gun.

    Very well played, sir.

  • PekingMan

    Yes, Song may well be right and lets hope she is. Still not sure why being naturally suspicious in an odd and suspicious situation can be put down to a cultural misunderstanding though.

  • Cloud

    It could have been one of those crime-prone immigrants…;D

  • SomeguyinKorea


    I like the way you think. (I also have a relatively large collection of my own that I keep in good shaving condition).

  • FJS

    I disagree with some of the previous posters on cultural differences.

    While there might be a misunderstanding possible on a weekday, a water company worker on a weekend is a bad (stupid) excuse. Running off is suspicious, too. A “sorry, my mistake” would have solved the misunderstanding.

    So I agree to Bob that his daughter was about to let in a criminal of some sort.

    The same thing happened to me in the opposite direction previously. I went to a small home business and the kids just opened the door to me. Because no adult was in sight I just kept ringing the doorbell to avoid a misunderstanding. Obviously, the mother was as mad as hell, when she finally came.

  • Arghaeri

    I’m glad he didn’t have a gun.

    ㅋㅋㅋ Yep, no need to run away then :-)

  • Josh

    The man caught a glimpse of me and ran off. This man claimed that he was from the water company and that there was a leak in my bathroom.

    He ran off when he saw you – which means the claim of being from the water company and the leak in the bathroom was all told to your daughter.

    Must have thought that she was home alone because most Korean children don’t open the door to strangers – they allow their parents to do that.

    Elgin – time to educate your daughter – “stranger danger”.

  • Madar

    About a month ago my wife and I caught a man trying to climb into our open window at 1 AM, on Friday night. He was halfway up the wall and had just stuck his head in the window frame when we heard something that made us look. The light was dim, but he was a foot away from us, and we could see that he was 40 something, sober, and well dressed. He was definitely not some drunk teenager or street person, but at least a semi-professional criminal. We stared at each other in surprise, then I started shouting and he scurried down the wall and bolted off. We called the police, who, as one might expect in Korea, did not bother writing a report, as he had not actually entered our premises. Nor did they bother dusting for finger prints or checking out the neighborhood CCTV footage. But they did leave us with some helpful advice. My wife had asked, had he entered the apartment and I had assaulted him, would I be charged with assault. We were informed, that, should someone break into your home in Korea, and, in such a case, should you simply feel threatened, you could assault or even kill the intruder, and no charges would be laid against you. It appears there is full home defense in Korea. So, I guess, the moral of the story is, don’t bother the police, but buy a hatchet from your local hardware store, just in case.

  • R. Elgin

    “Madar”, maybe that was Groucho Marx.

    Seriously, we had axle grease put on all the pipes in the back.

  • jkitchstk

    # 3,
    And the rest of the story “…to be then cooked and smashed into powder, put into capsules then sold and swallowed for sexual staying power/endurance.”

  • Hamilton

    I’ve been pretty surprised at the number of people who need to get into my apartment in Korea. I have smoke detector inspectors, fire extinguisher inspectors, bug sprayers, gas inspectors, water pipe inspectors, electricity inspectors, safety inspectors etcetera.

    Nearly every two weeks someone with a clip board needs to see the interior of my apartment and since I actually have a job they will show up at 9PM or on Saturdays at 8AM.

    I will let them in at night but on Saturday morning they can take a hike.

  • http://san-shin.org Sanshinseon

    Hmmmm, we hardly ever have such inspectors at our flat, just the gas company once a year i think, electric every summer. Must differ by district (i’m in Dongdaemun-gu). Occasional missionaries come to the door, but all told stranger callers are quite rare.

  • Hamilton

    I’m in Munbaedong, but it was the same in Yongsan(Samgakchi) but much less so when I was in Ichon-e-dong.

    It’s actually been about 3 weeks since the last inspection but I noticed a sign about gas meter inspectors for this week. They have these in two flavors, one where the guy comes in with a sniffer and checks the safety.(quarterly) They also have a different team check the meter even though it is electronically set up, I guess for accuracy about once a quarter.

  • SomeguyinKorea


    The damned railings on balconies is what annoys me. They clearly weren’t designed with safety in mind. I could have climbed those when I was a child and probably would have tried, too (Why I never grew up to become a rock climber, I don’t know.).

  • Wedge

    I get a MILFish gas chica about once a quarter. Still trying to figure out how to make that happen…

    I once got burgled when I was away and they sent about 10 guys including CSI Itaewon, who took a size-8 Chuck Taylor footprint from the floor. I’m sure the perp was arrested within the shift, just like on the show.

    The head honcho asked what I was missing and I told him as far as I knew, only five bucks from my nightstand. His eyes narrowed and he asked, “Is that all?” “No officer, you got me. I had 10 pounds of choom that I was distributing to low-quality English teachers and loose college girls. Arrest me now.”

    I also asked him what thieves in the neighborhood usually took (thinking “cash” and “jewelry” would be the answers). With a straight face, he said, “Yours is the first incident in this area.”

  • http://bcarr.com Brendon Carr

    Hey! Mine was the first incident in that same area, back in 1997.

  • http://bcarr.com Brendon Carr

    I’m glad he didn’t have a gun.

    Wouldn’t you rather have made him sorry that you did?

  • Mrs. Choi

    I don’t open the door to any male service/repair person, ever, unless my husband is home. I’m sure 99.99% of them mean me no harm, but I still feel like a sitting duck. No backdoor to escape from, no firearm to equalize or sway the power imbalance in my favor, no law enforcement agency that would give a crap if I were injured or dead, no judiciary that would serve actual justice on my behalf. No, thanks.

  • SomeguyinKorea


    Yes no guns…and yet you’re safer in South Korea than you would ever be in the US. The statistics speak for themselves.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    #34, is that because there are no guns in Korea? And do you think crime in the US would go down if people could not arm themselves? I doubt either of these propositions.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    sorry, that was for #35

  • John from Daejeon

    #34, crime is vastly under reported here as saving face and monetary reparations come into play far more often than criminal proceedings do.

    I lost an old student earlier this summer when after she was attacked and raped because her brother accidentally left the door unlocked on his way to one of his late nightly hagwon classes. It seems that his rapist was caught on video, but somehow the heads of the victim’s family and the rapist’s family decided on a monetary settlement as the correct course of action to save face without any other consequences to the rapist. Well, the truly wronged and grievously injured party couldn’t deal with it, or the fact that she was pregnant by this rapist scum, so she took her life.

    This happened almost two months’ ago and none of us had a clue in the neighborhood or at her old academy as it wasn’t in the news. The only reason we even found out is that her younger brother stopped by right before he left out of town with his parents. He was beyond a mess and really needed someone to talk to. Luckily, the owners of my school are like a second family and “good” people, but besides dealing with our own grief now, we are now worried about him taking his own life as he tries to deal with the aftermath of losing his sister and being forced to move to a new city and new school.

    I’m not saying that there isn’t crime all over the world (and way too much in the U.S.), but judging just by South Korean movies (I Saw the Devil, Oldboy, The Chaser, A Bittersweet Life, etc.) of late, this is a pretty violent country even though you claim the contrary, and it doesn’t hurt to heed a warning or to train our children in how to protect themselves from the evil that lurks all around us no matter where we live on this planet.

    And, yeah, I’m pretty messed up right now too, especially when I know that this rapist is still out there and not in prison where he belongs and I have to look out at all my young and innocent girls while trying not to constantly worry about their safety in a society that values them less than the loss of face of the male head of their families.

  • R. Elgin

    “John”, if there is *anything* at all anyone here could do to help, please let us know or contact me directly at relgin {a t] k ero mail (dot) c0m, please take out the spaces.

    Your story is precisely why I focus on safety.

  • jk6411

    John @#38,

    I agree that this was pretty messed up.

    But I would advise you not to pay too much attention to violent Korean movies. Korean movie directors are kinda nuts.

    But it’s true that sex crimes in Korea are getting out of control these days. There are more and more calls to deal harshly with the offenders.

  • R. Elgin

    “jk6411″, it has always been like that here. People are simply more aware of it and are having less tolerance for such.

  • jk6411

    “jk6411″, it has always been like that here. People are simply more aware of it and are having less tolerance for such.

    I disagree.
    I think the proliferation of internet porn has made the problem a lot worse.
    So many of these sex offenders admit that they were motivated to commit sex crimes after watching violent porn, child porn, and such on the internet.

    These days even middle schoolers are committing sex crimes.
    Such things were unthinkable when I was growing up in Korea.
    Back then, the internet didn’t exist.
    But these days, there’s porn everywhere and half the people in the world are perv’s. More perv’s means more sex crimes.
    It’s undeniable.

  • Mrs. Choi

    I’m not making any policy prescriptions, or saying how things ought to be, or where I think they are better. I’m simply saying I do not feel safe being in the confined space of a highrise apartment that has one entrance with a strange man. Luckily, I don’t have to be. Problem solved.

    Like guns or not – I respect both points of view- I would indeed have more of a fighting chance when faced by an attacker if I had one. It is simply a fact that most men are taller, heavier, stronger, and faster than I am.

    So what do you, a person who has the advantage of size and speed, suggest a woman or even a man of small stature do when experiencing the threat of a brutal physical attack? It takes much less time to learn how to properly use a weapon than sufficiently train for hand to hand combat.

    I am not arguing that Korean society, or any society, would be safer with guns. That is another discussion all together.

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