Navigating Emergencies in South Korea: A Comprehensive Guide


Visiting or living in a foreign country like South Korea can be an enriching experience, but it also comes with its set of challenges, particularly when faced with emergencies. In such situations, knowing what to do can make all the difference. This blog post provides a comprehensive guide on how to navigate emergencies in South Korea and the resources available to help you.

1. Emergency Contact Numbers

Knowing the right numbers to call is the first step in dealing with any emergency:

  • 112: Police (criminal incidents, theft, assault)
  • 119: Fire Department and Ambulance (fire, medical emergencies, accidents)
  • 1339: Medical Information and Assistance (non-emergency medical inquiries)

2. Using Emergency Services

Language Assistance

When calling emergency numbers, English-speaking operators are usually available, though there might be some delay. Clearly state your location, the nature of the emergency, and your contact information.

Location Information

Always be aware of your surroundings and be able to communicate your location accurately. Knowing the address, nearby landmarks, or having a GPS location from your phone can be crucial.

3. Hospitals and Medical Facilities

International Clinics

In major cities like Seoul and Busan, many hospitals have international clinics with English-speaking staff. These clinics are equipped to assist foreign patients and help with insurance matters.

Emergency Rooms

All hospitals have emergency rooms, but not all staff may speak English. It can be helpful to have a translation app or a Korean-speaking friend or colleague assist you.

4. Lost or Stolen Property

Reporting to Police

If your belongings are lost or stolen, report the incident to the nearest police station. They will issue a report that can be used for insurance claims.

Embassy Assistance

Contact your embassy or consulate for assistance in case of lost or stolen passports. They can guide you on the steps to obtain a replacement.

5. Natural Disasters

South Korea is prone to certain natural disasters like typhoons and earthquakes. Stay informed through weather apps and news services, and follow the guidance of local authorities.

Emergency Alerts

Your phone will receive emergency alerts in Korean. Apps like “Emergency Ready App” can translate these messages and provide guidance.

Evacuation Procedures

Familiarize yourself with evacuation procedures in your accommodation and workplace. Knowing the nearest shelter and evacuation route can be vital.

6. Road Accidents

If involved in a road accident, call 112 or 119 immediately. Do not move the vehicles until the police arrive, and exchange information with the other party.

7. Cultural Considerations

Understanding cultural nuances can help in interacting with emergency responders and locals assisting you. Politeness and calmness are valued, even in emergencies.

8. Emergency Preparedness


Ensure you have adequate travel or health insurance covering emergencies. Keep insurance details and emergency contact numbers accessible.

Emergency Kit

Having a basic emergency kit with essentials like water, snacks, flashlight, and first-aid supplies can be helpful.

Emergency Contacts List

Maintain a list of emergency contacts, including friends, family, embassy, and your accommodation.


Navigating emergencies in South Korea can be less daunting when you are well-prepared and informed. By familiarizing yourself with emergency procedures, knowing who to call, and understanding cultural nuances, you can ensure your safety and well-being. Whether you’re a traveler exploring the vibrant cities and picturesque landscapes or an expat immersing yourself in the local culture, being equipped to handle emergencies can help you make the most of your Korean experience with peace of mind.