Tuesday, June 7, 2011

It's not all Adventures and Cute Children: Issues of Safety

This was never intended to be a series. There was never a desire or expectation that this place should be filled with stories of pain and ugliness. Nor is there a desire to sugar-coat what composes the full spectrum of an international-living experience. There are countless opportunities to see new things, enjoy adventures, interact with sweet children and so much more. Then, there are a handful of opportunities to be broken down, vulnerable, exposed, and violated.

The first time The Harrington Times addressed one of the more difficult aspects of living abroad was following the third death the Harrington's faced while living abroad. This next difficult aspect occurred on Friday, May 27th later after Mike had left the country. That evening a Korean man followed Mrs. Harrington (quite stealthily) to her door and was merrily flashing his man parts and a ridiculous grin when she turned to close the door and get Lady back inside. Shocked and unprepared for such an encounter, the Mrs. slammed the door and frantically called some friends who were quick to offer their presence and a safe place to vent and be upset. The time while the Man was out of the house was particularly trying as Mrs. Harrington feared a possible second-sighting of this man.

The encounter has left the Lady of the house thinking and reflecting about a number of things, most which do not fit the theme of this blog. However, one is the expectations that so many people bring with them to South Korea - specifically the expectation of being safe. Being flashed outside one's home may not constitute the highest threat on safety but surely raises questions regarding what is a culturally appropriate response. On nearly any given day, safety in South Korea is a sure thing, regardless, women and others who choose to travel to South Korea should maintain a sense of awareness regarding their surroundings and what to do in case of emergency or uncomfortable encounter.

The following provides links and information regarding safety in Korea, emergency protocol, a few legal matters and articles detailing a few of these not so welcome incidents.
A side note to friends and family back home: Melissa is safe leaving and returning from her home. She would have accessed her ninja-like skills were it not for a heavy bag of groceries in her hands. However, such skills may have caused a bigger issue as self-defense may not be seen in the same vein as it is stateside. The Man has returned home and there is no need to worry endlessly about their safety and comfort, although prayers of such are always welcome. Our home/building is one of five in a neighborhood of 30-40 that has a locking front entrance as well as a key-coded personal door. The Harrington's are definitely safe and don't expect to face any additional problems such as this. Family and friends, remain calm and confident that the couple is in a safe place.

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