Destinations

What To Do If You Lose Your Wallet in Korea

So, I recently managed to lose my wallet in Hongdae. My girlfriend and I planned a simple night out – a few beers, a quick trip to the arcade, and a little karaoke. Nothing out of the ordinary. Well, somewhere between the arcade and the karaoke, I either lost my wallet, dropped it, or was pickpocketed. Either way – it was gone. If you find yourself in a similar situation, here is what you need to do to get your lost items back.

Introduction

During a night out with my girlfriend in Hongdae, I lost my wallet. Of course, panic overtook me right away.

In my wallet, I had a few essential documents. In particular, I was extremely concerned about my ARC. It is my Korean ID, which shows proof of my immigration status and residency in South Korea. If I lost my ARC it takes at least three weeks to renew, if you are lucky.

I’ve already scheduled a trip back to my home country in less than four weeks… So I was scared that if I didn’t have it by the time I flew back, I’d be in trouble when I tried to reenter Korea after my trip. Obviously, the second major issue was my credit and bank cards.

Retrace Your Steps

We went back to every location we had visited fairly shortly after I realized I lost my wallet. We looked around the street, returned to the arcade, and explored every corner in the bar. At each location, we asked the staff if anyone had turned in a wallet.

Unfortunately, no one saw it, and it was nowhere to be found. It was a gut-wrenching discovery.

Freeze Your Cards

After we were unable to find anything, I decided to freeze my credit card so that no one could use it. When you buy something in Korea, you will notice that at many stores do not need you to enter your pin. Most of the time, you don’t even need a signature; if someone had my card, they could drain my accounts with ease. As a result, I was very concerned and immediately tried to contact the card-freezing hotline.

Contact the Police

I couldn’t make calls outside of Korea with my phone plan, so I had to ask my mum to do it for me. As she waited in the call line for me, we phoned the cops to have them check the CCTV tape to see whether it had been stolen.

They arrived very soon, and I spoke with them about everything, as well as setting up the notice of the missing goods. Then, we reviewed the surveillance tape at the arcade.  Unfortunately, the video was shaky at best, and there were far too many people in the arcade to actually see something. We assumed I had lost it there, so we concentrated our search there.

The cops informed us about a website called “Lost112” where people post lost goods.  After that, we returned home and checked that site every 10 minutes or so, but it just wasn’t there.

To access the site, Click Here. The English version of the site is very limited. It is better to use the Korean site with the help of a friend. For the Korean site, Click Here.

Go Back in the Daytime

I intended to retrace our route the next day and search around the arcade in the daytime to see if somebody had dropped it. Perhaps we’ll be able to see better in the daytime and with fewer people? At this point, I was simply reaching for anything.

So we went up there and questioned employees again, but no one saw anything and there is still no evidence, just like the night before. After doing some research, I found someone who suggested taking the subway because many people would bring it to the “Lost & Found” location there. The Hongdae area where I lost my wallet is really close to a subway station, so we headed there in hopes of hopefully finding it there.

Tourist Information Center

While we were on our way, my partner thought it would be a good idea to check at the tourist information center. We were desperate and wanted to try anything, so we went there before heading to the metro station. It’s right next to a crossroad, with H&M and the famous busking area right around the corner.

There are normally three people inside – one to assist with English, one to assist with Chinese, and one to assist with Korean. I described the circumstances, the wallet’s appearance, and anything else they needed to know. They told me they’d look for it and help me in any way they could.

And, after some searching and phone calls, they were able to locate my wallet! And it was so close! Someone has delivered it to the local police station, and I can pick it up right now! It’s a good thing my partner thought of asking them! It truly saved my life, and I would never have thought to ask them otherwise.

Retrieving the Wallet at the Police Station

As soon as we arrived, the police asked me a few simple questions to ensure it was my wallet. For example, my ARC number, which university I attend (because I had my university ID in there as well), my major, my birthdate, and my full name. They gave it back to me after I answered most of it – I couldn’t remember my whole ARC number. Anyways, I had to sign something, then I was off with my wallet.

Even though we managed to get everything done by speaking English, having a Korean-speaking companion with you would have made things a lot easier. As they tried to clarify what information they wanted from me, I struggled to understand everything, and there were a lot of language barriers.

Last words

Losing your things in a foreign country is extremely stressful, but don’t panic. You have a very good chance of finding your lost stuff in Korea! Look at the Lost112 site – a lot of people have uploaded wallets, single cards, or bags — one person even posted a 50,000 won in cash. It’s not common here to steal. My wallet also had everything inside. Nothing was touched.

Even if it doesn’t appear on the site, it may be sent to the post office, which will return it to you within two weeks. A buddy of mine told me that something similar had occurred to him only a few months before. His wallet just appeared in his post box a few weeks after losing it.  So keep your head up if you find yourself in a similar situation! Perhaps my experience will be of some assistance to you. Be safe and stay healthy!