Common Travel Scams in South Korea

While Korea is known for its low crime rates, we can’t deny that each country still has their own flaws. Here are some of the common travel scams in Korea that one might encounter if not careful and observant enough!

You’re probably wondering, ‘Isn’t Korea quite safe?” After all, the country has relatively low crime rates as well as zero incidences of terrorism in recent history. Still, that doesn’t mean you’ll be 100% safe from people with not so good intentions! At the end of the day there’s always the possibility of you falling prey to scams (사기) in Korea especially when you’re a tourist.

Accommodations and Rentals

When booking online, it’s best to be as cautious as possible. There have been scammers (사기꾼) who advertise quest houses (게스트 하우스) as actual hotels. The worst one would be booking a lodging that turns out to be either in a totally different or non- existent address (주소) ! Make sure to research diligently by checking out online reviews and asking the owner for specific details. You might want to check the place out on Google Street View too.

Cult Ceremonies

This is one of the most common tourist scams in Korea. Usually, it involves an old woman and her ‘daughter’ approaching you on the street. They’ll ask if you have relatives or loved ones who passed away recently. Should you say yes, they’ll say something like the soul the deported is not a peace and to change that you need to come with them to a ‘traditional Korean ceremony’ to make an offering. Once you get there, they’ll require you to make a donation that’s 1,000 times your age (나이) in Korean won!

Monk Posers

In case you didn’t know yet, real monks don’t solicit money and this applies to monks everywhere in the world. But since Korea is quite known for its Buddhist temples, we can’t blame you if you find yourself second guessing. These fake monks will give you ‘free’ amulets for good luck n exchange for a donation.

Some might even show photos of a temple and a notebook with names of donors and the amount donated just to guilt trip you further. If ever this happens, the best thing to do is simply decline!

Prostitution Scam

Reported by the Jeju Island District Police, this scam seeks to extort money from tourists seeking sex with teenage girls. These teenage girls recruit victims through a mobile chat app and lure them to a hotel room. There, victims are blackmailed and threatened to give up a sum of money or they would be reported to the police for soliciting sex with underage girls.  

Have you encountered any other scams when travelling? Shares your thoughts with us in the comments, we love to hearing from you!

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