Side note (can you have a side note before you actually say anything? probably not): I titled this post after the Bastille song… which has nothing to do with the topic of this post. It’s just a good song.
Daegu is a pretty big city. It’s the 4th largest in Korea, in fact. The streets are busy. There’s traffic day and night. There are a lot of people walking and biking everywhere, too.
One thing that really stands out to me is that children roam these busy city streets unsupervised. Almost anywhere you go, you’ll see kids walking on the sidewalk, crossing the street – in twos or threes or by themselves, with no parent or guardian in sight. They play in the parks alone. They go to the convenience store alone. They ride the bus alone. (Alone meaning adult-less, because most of the time they’re with friends.)
The majority of them are middle or high school age, but there are also elementary school kids walking around without an adult. Yesterday I passed a little boy crossing a busy street by himself who couldn’t have been more than 6 or 7 years old. Seriously.
In America, parents have been arrested for just letting their kids play outside without supervision. Here in Korea, there seems to be a completely different mindset (and level of safety, or at least perception thereof).
This site shows that if nothing else, people feel safer overall in Korea than in the U.S. Based on my short experience thus far, I can agree that it feels very safe here, even if I’m walking alone at night (such as on my disastrous first evening in Daegu). I’m not saying I’ll be walking down any dark alleys by myself anytime soon, but the atmosphere is definitely different.