The Korea Herald


Seoul to provide 10,000 portable safety alarms in December

By Son Ji-hyoung

Published : Dec. 5, 2023 - 15:41

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This photo, taken on Nov. 7 in Seoul City Hall, shows Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon holding two portable devices that are supposed to protect women from gender-based crimes. (Yonhap) This photo, taken on Nov. 7 in Seoul City Hall, shows Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon holding two portable devices that are supposed to protect women from gender-based crimes. (Yonhap)

The Seoul Metropolitan Government announced Tuesday that it has teamed up with the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency to provide portable personal safety devices to some 10,000 potential victims of gender-based violence.

The set of devices was unveiled by Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon and Kim Kwang-ho, chief of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, at a ceremony held on Tuesday at Seoul Square. Police arrived less than four minutes after Oh activated the alerting device, according to Oh's office.

The device, one of the two handheld devices that comprise the "Jikime" set, is designed to alert the police automatically along with up to five people designated by the user. The automatic alert would be sent to the police 20 seconds after the potential victim activates the device by separating the device. Users may either choose to set off a 70-decibel siren, or to put it on silent mode.

The other one is used as a handheld siren intended to draw attention from people around the user, emitting a 120-decibel alarm once the user pulls the pin out of the device, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

The number of sets to be supplied will total 10,000 by the end of this year, a Seoul city official told The Korea Herald.

These devices will be available in 31 police stations and precincts combined across the capital beginning in late December.

Those looking to get these self-protection devices may apply by reporting a gender-based crime through a hotline, or visiting the nearest police station or precinct. Then, the police will determine whether those applying for the Jikime set are eligible, although the Seoul Metropolitan Government did not disclose the eligibility criteria.

The official added that further measures in 2024 to produce Jikime sets and supply them to potential gender-based violence victims are underway.

This announcement comes as gender-based crimes such as sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking and dating violence have been on the rise nationwide here.

In particular, the number of those arrested for dating violence reached 12,828 in 2022, up over 30 percent compared with 2019, according to the police data compiled by Rep. Chung Woo-taik of the ruling People Power Party in September.

Another data set compiled by Chung indicated that those arrested for stalking crime allegations amounted to 9,895 in 2022, and the same set of data showed 7,406 people were arrested from January to August. A standalone set of laws to address stalking offences was passed in October 2021.

Most recently, a rape-murder case by a 30-year-old man in August on a hiking trail in southern Seoul stoked public fears, raising the need for public protection. A case of 32-year-old Jeon Joo-hwan, who murdered an ex-coworker in Seoul's Sindang subway station in revenge for her refusal to drop stalking charges against him, also garnered the media spotlight. Jeon was handed down a life sentence at the Supreme Court in October.

This has raised calls for a local autonomous government to tackle the rise of violence targeted at women. Other than Jikime devices, Seoul has rolled out plans to install 5,515 surveillance cameras in 1,640 locations considered blind spots across the capital city, especially in parks and hiking trails to allow the city to monitor violent crimes in real time.