Saturday, November 26, 2005

Safe in Seoul...

A couple days ago I went to the website of my hometown newspaper for an update from Kansas and was shocked that 5 of the 7 headlines on the main page were concerning crime and violence:

12-year-old Wichita boy shot in the neck

Butler County woman charged in murder case

Wichitan convicted of stealing money from elderly woman

One suspect arrested, another sought in stabbing

Man involved in sodomy case will get to celebrate holidays

Was there a time (not so long ago) when an abundance of headlines such as these didn't invoke such a strong reaction for me, or was it just a particularly crime-filled week in Wichita? If the former is true (which sadly, is most probable), it's unfortunate how desensitized you can become after being continuously surrounded by crime through the media. I only came to this realization after living in a city considered by many to be one of the safest cities in the world. Yes, I'm sure the arguments over the recent kimchi trade war between China and Korea have a potential to turn violent, and I'm not denying that Korea doesn't have it's share of crime, but it's nothing compared to most major American cities. The crime rates are especially shocking when you take into consideration Wichita is a city of less than 500,000 and Seoul metropolis is home to over 10 million.
With this being said, I rarely ever felt threatened in Wichita and would never have considered it an "unsafe" city by any standards. But after looking at it from an outside perspective, I realize that even though I wasn't witness to most of the crimes taking place, sadly they were still occurring. It is comforting to live in a city where theft and violence are so uncommon. When I first moved here I thought it was so strange when I saw children walking around alone (even at night) in such a huge city but now I hardly take notice. Or when, at a restaurant or bar you can leave your purse (or in my case, backpack) and get up and dance or whatever and be confident that it will untouched when you return (I know it sounds crazy but it's true!). Perhaps someday we can look forward to a world void of meaningless crimes but until then...

(Yes, I do realize that the moment I wrote this I drastically increased my probability of getting drugged, mugged and assaulted in Seoul, but I'm willing to take that risk)