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Everything You Need to Know About Ulsan

Being Prepared for Crisis

Updated July 2014 to include the new National Emergency Preparedness App for Foreigners by the Korean government agency NEMA (National Emergency Management Agency). This advice is also useful for natural disasters such as typhoons and earthquakes (both of which are highly unlikely in Ulsan, but can happen).


As you may or may not have heard, the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, is rather upset about several things right now (the new SK President, tightened UN sanctions, SK/US military drills) and is threatening (again) to turn Seoul into a lake of fire. This is mostly a lot of hot air and bluster from a frustrated leader of a poor country that no one really pays any attention to unless they’re threatening nuclear holocaust. So threaten they do. However, they do occassionally follow through (somewhat) on their threats, bombing islands close to their territorial waters, or torpedoing ships. And who knows, Kim Jr.Jr. may be crazier than his father, and less under the influence of China, whose distinct lack of wanting a war has stopped anything from escalating in the past. It’s always good to keep in mind that Korea is a peninsula at war, as they never signed a peace treaty after the fighting in the 1950’s. So while a full out war is highly unlikely, and even bombing a target larger than a fishing village would be rather improbable, it’s always best to be prepared.

1. Register with your embassy in Seoul. The links for Canada, the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa (the English teacher countries) are available in this story written in 2010 during a similarly tense time (just before Kim Jong Il’s death). If you’re not registered, the embassy will not contact you. It’s possible that Korean Immigration may share their records with embassies during an emergency situation, but imagine the bureaucracy and time involved in that. Be proactive and register.

1.a) (added July 2014) There is now an App available to keep you alerted to any emergency situations, including natural disasters. The Apple store has it available here, and the Android app is available here. There are instructions on how to install it here.

2. Be aware of what your embassy will and won’t do during an emergency situation. Most countries do not evacuate civilians unless there are no commercial routes available for escape, and evacuation costs are considered the citizens responsibility (ie, you have to pay back the government, and it *will* be pricier than flying out on your own ticket). Your home government has a travel site that will explain what their role is in this type of situation.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth office explains their role here.This is the best page for general advice on what to do in a crisis situation, so read this regardless of your citizenship.

The US State Department has a page of FAQs for their citizens.

The Canadian Government’s role in evacuations is explained on this page.

The Irish Government outlines what their Department of Foreign Affairs can do on this site.

The Australian Government lists the duties of their Consular offices.

The New Zealand Government vaguely mentions helping in a crisis here.

The South African Government outlines their Consular roles here.

3. Keep enough money on hand to buy an emergency plane ticket out of the country, should the worst happen. The Canadian government has suggestions for an emergency kit you can keep stashed somewhere handy in case you are stranded in your house for several days.

4. Stay informed. If you’re registered, your embassy will contact you in case of emergency, but it’s up to you to keep an eye on the news. Talk to co-workers or classmates to stay up to date on what’s happening.

5. Let your family and friends back home know you’ve taken all of these steps, and let them know what’s going on here to help calm their fears. It’s difficult for people far from the area to grasp the true danger of the situation, especially with the 24-hour news cycle that loves to make everything a giant crisis. Learn where the nearest pay phones are (they still exist?) so you can try to make contact if cellular networks go down. Again, the likelihood of anything escalating is minimal, but being prepared is never a bad idea.

** Please note, I tried to find travel advice for citizens of other countries, but have been unable to do so yet. I will update the page if that information becomes available. If you are from a country other than the ones listed, and have information on what your fellow citizens can do, please email me at – Thank you!