Being one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world has both pros and cons. While tech makes everyday life in South Korea convenient, many also misuse technology. Despite Korea being known as one of the safest countries in the world, digital sex crimes run rampant. In fact, in 2017, the Korean National Police recorded more than 6,000 cases of unauthorized filming for sexual content. The phenomenon has been nicknamed the Spycam Plague. And so, if you find yourself traveling around Korea, here are some tips to spot hidden cameras and avoid falling victim to spycams.
Nobody should ever have to face a scenario in which their privacy has been violated. If you think about it, there are cameras everywhere. On our phones, in the dash cams of cars, and in front of virtually every building. If you think about it, we are constantly being filmed without our consent.
However, in normal day-to-day life, this footage is never used. It’s only stored for a limited time and only retrieved if needed as evidence when a crime occurs. For many, this is already a disturbing thought. In Korea, you are undoubtedly more often on camera than not with the number of CCTVs throughout the city.
While the issue of state surveillance is controversial in many parts of the world, Koreans generally aren’t very concerned. They are willing to give up a bit of privacy in exchange for safety.
Whatever your opinions are on the matter, nearly everyone draws the line at spycams.
How Big of A Problem Are Spycams?
Spycams refer to when an individual places a camera in a private location, such as a restroom, locker room, or hotel room with the intention of capturing intimate and nonconsensual footage of another person. The bulk of the victims are usually female, and the captured images or videos are regularly sold on various pornographic websites.
With the filming and distribution of pornography being illegal in South Korea, spycam footage actually became the dominant adult film genre in the country. In 2018, the issue of spycams took centerstage with the bust of multiple spycam rings. In fact, the problem was so severe that the Seoul government established an 8,000-person team in September 2018 to scour the city’s public restrooms on a daily basis. To this day, the police still regularly sweep public restrooms and hotels.
In Korea, cameras are often disguised as everyday objects or so small that they are barely noticeable. While difficult it is difficult to spot spycams, it is not impossible.
How to Spot a Spycam
One of my friends is extremely concerned about spycams. Every time we go out, she loses her mind with every small square-shaped object or hole in the wall she finds. However, criminals know that is what concerned citizens expect. More often than not, spycams are placed in objects and hidden in ways you would never expect.
Cameras have progressed and have become lighter, smaller, and even more powerful as technology has advanced. These cameras are extremely easy to get your hands on in Korea. All you have to do is go down to the seedy technology district near Yongsan station to see thousands of spycams in the making.
Where to Find a Spycam
While spotting the cameras themselves is nearly impossible, thankfully battery technology is lagging. Because hidden cameras often require a power source to record continuously, it makes logical sense to conceal one with other electrical equipment. Most commonly they are attached to fans, smoke detectors, hairdryers, and clocks to conceal their wiring. And so if you are concerned about spycams, focus your energy on electronics. If you notice a stray wire attached to or near an appliance, don’t ignore it.
Remember that spycams are used for filming, so angles matter. In restrooms, spycams are most likely going to be hidden in low areas, angled upward. In hotels and changing areas, look up.
Making Sure You’re Spycam Free
No matter how much you try to find spycams with the naked eye, the chances of actually finding them are rare. The only real way to ensure there are no spycams in the area is to use a spycam detector.
There are several different types of spy cam detectors that you can find online that aren’t too expensive. But not all types of detectors can find every type of camera.
The most common type of spy cameras in Korea use a radio frequency to transmit the footage they’re taking. Thankfully an RF detector can detect these frequencies. As a result, if you are concerned about spycams in Korea a good RF detector might be worth investing in.
However, even using an RF detector there is no way to be one-hundred percent certain an area is spycam free. If the spycam is using internal storage, there is no signal to detect. Plus, there are devices available that can mask RF signals. Unfortunately, if criminals are smart enough chances are their spycams will be impossible to detect.
What to Do if You Find a Spycam in Korea
Do not panic if you find a hidden camera while in Korea, and don’t damage the camera. You want to make sure police can extract any data possible to use as evidence or trace the criminal.
Make sure you contact local police or authorities right away by calling 112 or by visiting a local police station. If you find a spycam in a hotel or private business, still contact the police first. There have been instances where owners have installed the cameras themselves.
If you are staying in an Airbnb, you should contact Airbnb customer service as soon as you finish speaking with the police. Airbnb has strict rules in place for hosts who install covert cameras without informing guests. Most likely, the host will be barred from hosting future visitors and will be investigated by the appropriate authorities.
On a final note, I would advise you, never to be paranoid. Just be cautious and know the possibility. If it is something you find yourself concerned about, you can take steps to limit possible impacts. I would advise using the restroom in cafes, rather than in subway stations or parks. Plus, when shopping, you could wear undershirts or other coverings.
Overall, spycams are an unfortunate fact of life in South Korea. But, hopefully someday in the near future, better methods can be developed to help catch criminals.
If you have experienced sexual harassment in South Korea, Click Here to learn more about reporting the crime.