Murder Rates in the U.S., Korea

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Crime, South Korea

korea-homicideNote: My family last year relocated to Seoul, where my wife is working as a foreign correspondent for NPR. This post is part of an occasional series profiling the peninsula’s demographics and politics.

Among the many benefits of living in South Korea is its relative safety. Crime, it seems, is low — even in Seoul.

But a particularly heinous crime recently — the slaying of a young woman in Seoul’s trendy Gangnam district — has rocked the country and got me thinking again about crime here.

How common, for example, is murder?

More common than I thought, it turns out. There were more than 900 murders in South Korea during 2014, the most recent data available from the Korean Statistical Information Service.

Compare that with about 14,000 murder cases during the same year in the United States, which obviously has a much larger population. This chart shows the murder rate in both countries per 100,000 population (with a line for Seoul, too).

Despite the high-profile recent case in Seoul, murder remains much less common here.

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