Recently, “Numbeo” (http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/), the largest people contributed data base, has provided first rank to South Korea in safety index. Numbeo provides current information about the living conditions prevail in important cities, worldwide. Information including, cost of living, housing, health care, traffic, crime and pollution can be availed from Numbeo.
At this juncture, I would like to write some of my observation which can be placed under the context of “Safety in South Korea”.
Public and civil safety
High tech surveillance by real time CCD cameras, police patrolling, transport connectivity via surface and subway, and well equipped communication systems make the citizens and visitors (foreigners) feel connected and safe here, at South Korea.
Local people may feel shy for English. However, if someone knows even little English, they always come forward to help visitors.
In the day-to-day life, the visitors can see the Koreans directing the needy using the maps, mobile phone apps, and translating the information from Korean to English and vice versa.
24 shops, taxis, two wheelers of food vendors, ambulance services have been making the streets/roads busy even in the night.
Once in six month, the civil defense exercise is conducted by National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) with due diligence and importance. At the scheduled time, citizens will be asked to move safest places such as bunker like underground part of the buildings. Nearly all public and private buildings are equipped with this kind of underground facilities. Korean subways are the finest example of this kind. Since two Koreas (North and South) said to be technically in war. Remember there is armistice reached between Koreas in 27 July 1953, which ended the Korean War and established the demilitarized zone (DMZ) at the 38th parallel.
As there has been no “final peaceful settlement” reached yet, armistice is keeping the people in the Korean peninsula safe and prevents hostile military activities.
To ensure the truce to be held, “the military armistice commission (MAC)”, which was established as result of “The Korean War (1950-53) Armistice” regularly meets in the truce village, Panmunjom, located inside DMZ. .
Successive governments in South Korea have been succeeding in diffusing tension arouse/arise out of verbal, intelligence (including cyber-attacks), and armed (naval) provocations in border.
It reveals the fact that South Korean political and bureaucratic systems are continuously ensuring the presence of ever vigilant diplomatic and military brains at work.
Wherever required, guardrails and safety barricades are installed in street road to highways. Signals, sign boards, and mirrors are installed and maintained well. Remember, Korea is not a plain land, hilly roads with and ups and downs are very common here. Also Korea has four well-defined seasons: spring, autumn, winter and summer. So at winter, heavy snow and fog are expected to affect the traffic. Sometime, the fog caused the collision of series of cars and vehicles on the Korean roads. Bridges at highway are subjected to routine safety check-ups. Whenever required, the traffic is controlled by police and private traffic controllers. The robotic signals are also common, mainly the sites where the roadway construction are being carried out.
Fatal accidents are uncommon for South Korean roads. However, light collisions of cars are most common here. If there is an accident, a rescue team (including 119 ambulances) arrives to the site. The police team demarks the accident zone to safeguard other commuters. Korean railways are popular for its commuter friendly management systems and infrastructures. To people with alternative capabilities (physically handicapped) necessary assistance provided via traffic signals with sound, engraved pavement blocks at the foot paths, (special) elevators, and convenient rest room facilities.
Laboratory and Industrial Safety
Once in six month, safety trill and lectures are being conducted in both Korean and English. Everyday evening there is an announcement about laboratory safety and the emergence number are also provided.
From masks to coats all tool of safety are supplied.
If there is an accident, the members of safety team arrive immediately to scene and lift the affected people to the hospital as early as possible,
Then, the place of accident will be demarked to ensure the safety of unaffected members. If necessary, the staffs in the whole building (for example, if there are fumes) asked to vacate until all hazards removed.
Recently, I was happened to be at the scene of Lab accident, within 15 seconds, a lab-mate brought the affected person under the shower of water. Within next 15 seconds, we were there as an opposite door lab members. A member of safety team arrived within next 20 seconds. An ambulance (from nearest 119 station) arrived within 18-20 min. Within next 15 mins, the affected person reached the hospital. This is the recent example I have witnessed/experienced in person. This is the way Korean system responds when the issues of safety arise.
Safety at construction and public works
First of all, the site of construction is separated by installing non-woven screens and plastic boards. The non-woven screen and plastic boards are used to avoid the particulate (dust), noise (sound) pollution, respectively. The sound level measuring meters are installed outside the construction site, where it can be visible to public.
Proper clothing materials and helmets are provided to laborers. Al most all works have mechanized. Laborers are almost working as operators of constriction of machines.
After lunch period, before starting work, the site manager provides instruction about work safety and co-operation. There is also light exercise before starting work.
Overall, South Korea found to be practicing strict and useful safety policy.
About author: Dr. SubramaniyanRamasundaram is a native of Chokkampatti, Virudhunagar District, Tamilnadu, India. Currently, he is working as a visiting scientist at Korea Institute of Science and Technology, Seoul, Korea.