South Korea Still Safe For Travel – 2014
Would you still travel to South Korea in light of the recent power play made by North Korea?
Embassy Gives OK
According to the U.S. Embassy, travel to South Korea is still safe.
A security message dated April 4, 2013 states that there are no imminent threats to U.S. Citizens despite political tensions with North Korea.
“The Embassy has not changed its security posture and we have not recommended that U.S. citizens who reside in, or plan to visit, the Republic of Korea take special security precautions at this time,” it reads.
The statement does urge U.S. citizens to keep in regular contact with family and friends and to enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive travel and security updates.
According to the embassy, it “takes as its highest priority the welfare of American citizens in Korea. Should the security situation change, the Embassy will issue updated information.”
Why You May Hesitate
North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, warned foreigners on April 9, 2013 to leave South Korea because of an impending nuclear war.
Jong-un has said he will launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike on both South Korea and the United States, because of the ongoing joint military drills by the U.S. and South Korea, and because of the sanctions imposed by the U.N. after North Korea launched a nuclear test in February.
North Korea has reportedly moved intermediate range missiles to two locations on the east coast, potentially within striking distance of Japan and American bases in Guam, and has told foreign embassies that diplomats will not be safe after April 10.
North Korea has also banned South Korean workers from an inter-Korean project known as the Kaesong Industrial Zone, which lies just north of the South Korea border.
The industrial complex houses more than 120 South Korean companies, which produce electronics, shoes, clothes and chemical products. The complex was a collaborative effort between North and South Korea started in 1998 to promote peace between the bordering countries.
Several hundred South Korean workers travel across the border daily, providing $2 billion a year to North Korea in trade and $92 million a year in wages to North Korean workers.
Many workers have now returned to their home in South Korea.
Some believe North Korea is cutting ties to South Korea despite the economic gain to establish a sense of power and control in the North Korean government in light of news coverage in South Korea over why Kaesong has been kept open when North Korea keeps threatening war.
Because of the mounting tensions between the countries, the move to close Kaesong to South Korea is expected.
North Korean propaganda videos have claimed the county can turn cities such as Seoul and Washington into a “sea of flames” but are unlikely to be true based on past North Korean rhetoric.
Why You May Consider It
Seoul is the 600-year-old capital of South Korea. With a city population of more than 11 million and a metropolitan population of more than 25 million, it blends ancient tradition and modern technology.
Experience the grandeur of a palace, the peace of a Buddhist temple, the luxury of a spa or the bustling nightlife.
Gyeongbok-gung is the grandest palace in Seoul from the Joseon Dynasty-era and for centuries was the seat of power. It was destroyed in 1592 and in 1910 by Japanese invasions. Large parts have been restored and the grounds house the Korean Folk Museum and the Joseon Palace Museum.
The Bongeun Temple is the largest, richest and more popular temple in Seoul. It contains several Buddhist buildings and sculptures, as well as a quiet area to rest and pray. The area nearby was transformed from rice field backwater to an opulent borough.
The Banyan Tree Spa indulges visitors in oriental therapy massages and treatments. A luxury oriental spa, the Banyan Tree Spa is a chain of 60 spas worldwide, which offers its signature Royal Banyan massage and a traditional Thai message.
A 1.5-hour city night tour takes visitors on a bus from Gwanghwamun to the Hangang River bridges to the Seoul Tower and beyond. A pitstop at the Namdaemun Market, a large wholesale market, allows tourists to shop for Korean clothes, accessories and food for low cost. The bus finally arrives in Cheonggye Plaza in the heart of Seoul.
What Would You Do?
Is South Korea your idea of adventure travel, with Jong-un readying missiles and threatening nuclear war? Or would you prefer to vacation on safer ground? Is the spectacular city of Seoul enough to draw you into a region on the brink of war?
Jill Baskin is the leading contributor to Monkey.co.uk, an insurance comparison site. For every car insurance quote taken out, Monkey will donate a portion to your charity of choice.