The tragic death of Jill Meagher in Australia has this week forced me to reassess my safety here in Korea. Safety is to the forefront of every expats mind but when push comes to shove how much do we think about our safety in our day to day lives?
I’ve been living in South Korea for the past 3 years. Thankfully, in those 3 years, I’ve never had my safety compromised and sincerely hope that for the rest of my time here, I’ll continue to live safely. When I first moved here, safety was all I thought about. I was constantly looking over my shoulder, didn’t trust anyone and never took risks. As I got more acquainted with my neighbourhood and as I got to understand the culture here, safety took a place somewhere in the middle of my mind.
A few months ago though, a man tried to break into my friend’s apartment while she was at home. He rang the bell, but she didn’t answer and when he thought the apartment was empty, he spidermanned his way 30ft to her window and proceeded to climb in. Thankfully, a bit of screaming was enough to discourage him from completely entering and my friend was fine, but the whole event made me re think the safety issue. When we reported the event the police here, they took it so seriously and sent officers from the C.S.I. unit to investigate. . .
After recent events, I asked myself “if I was to go missing, how long would it be before anyone noticed?” Although this seems like a very negative question, as a woman living in a foreign country alone, it is one that many of us should ask ourselves. I have a job and neighbours and friends but in a country as safe as Korea, would anyone think of the worst if I was to simply not show up? And I don’t mean I as in me, I mean anyone of us expats living abroad. I communicate with my family, sure, but not every day. I hang out with my friends but if I don’t show up they just presume I’m busy.
My sister is also living abroad, in Spain. She lives with her boyfriend and of all my family members, I communicate with her the most. But, until recently, I wouldn’t have thought anything of not texting her for a few days, if I was busy and vice versa. Now, however, we’ve made the pact to send each other a text everyday, just to be sure.
This all seems a bit extreme but in a country where the fact that your foreign gets you noticed more than at home, extra safety measures can never be a bad thing. We’d all like to think that in this day and age, we can go about our business, in the safety of our neighbourhoods, no matter where in the world that might be, but the simple truth is that we can’t. We must do more to not only protect ourselves but also our friends and family.
My thoughts and prayers are with the husband and family of Jill Meagher at this time.