Every country has their own rules of the road and not just their traffic regulations – Korea is also unique in their own way.
Anybody who has been in a Korean taxi will know – it is perfectly normal to speed in Korea!
Korea doesn’t really have any highway speed patrols; sometimes they have a patrol car on the highway to discourage speeding, but there are no officers on duty looking for speeders and ticketing them. Instead they have cameras spread out all along the highways, and especially by busy and dangerous areas. Of course they also reflect the speed limits as well, but with no active patrol around people tend to speed regardless.
Best of all, the Korean GPS phone/mobile applications also notify you when you are approaching a speed cam warning you to slow down. What does this create? A culture where you speed whenever there is no speed cam and then everyone slows down right before the speed cameras! I thought it pretty stupid when first realizing it, but as a driver it is quite nice I must say! Nonetheless it is dangerous and everyone should proceed with caution at all times.
Often used on the highways/motorways rather than on streets or when parked. Some truck drivers will turn their hazards on if they notice you behind them. It’s basically their way of telling you to pass them as they aren’t going to go any faster. And on the highway, people use them to notify those behind them that there is traffic ahead and a major slowdown in speed up ahead. There really isn’t the belief that just because the person ahead of you has touched their brakes that you also have to in Korea; maybe you’ll just lift off the accelerator instead.
My advice – hit them brakes if you see dem hazard lights ahead of you!
This is by far the most interesting aspect of driving in Korea! Let’s start off by stating that there are few places you cannot park in. Everywhere else is fair game. You will find parked cars in the most remote and random places in Korea. Best of all, in parking lots when all the spots are taken – people will start making their own spots behind parked cars blocking their way out. This made absolutely no sense to me at first – like in NYC when this happens you honk your horn forever trying to get the driver to get back to their car to move outta the way!
Here in Korea, they place their cell/mobile numbers on their dashboards! That way if you find yourself in a similar predicament you can simply ring them up and as Ludacris would say, “Move bitch, get out the way; get out the way bitch, get out the way.”
So if you find yourself going to a popular and/or touristy spot and they only have paid parking around, backtrack a few and I’m sure you could find a free spot somewhere in the vicinity – you may have to walk a little bit but it’s your call! I often found myself doing this because I come from a cheap family and I’ve inherited its ways.
Coming from NYC, I found it weird driving around and rarely ever seeing a cop. In fact this applies to being a pedestrian and walking around Korea too! The number of cops you see on a daily basis is exponentially less than NYC – thanks to how relatively safe Korea is to NYC.
With that being said, I’ve had this conversation with others before and some have told me that it may be due to Korea’s history with cops.
You may already be aware that Japan had for some time occupied Korea right? During that time Japan was pretty ruthless as we may all already know, and were the ones patrolling the streets and enforcing their rules and regulations on the oppressed Koreans. This led to an overall distrust of the popos and still to this day some are a bit wary of the cops. Of course nowadays Koreans are the ones in control and protecting their citizens, but it seems to have effected their way of living in a tiny sense.