The number of pedestrians who died from traffic accidents reached 4.61 in every 100,000 people in 2007, according to the 2007 OECD statistics quoted by the Korea Transport Institute yesterday.
With the record, Korea far exceeded Hungary, which was ranked second in the list with 2.86. Greece and Portugal followed with 2.11 and 2.02 respectively. Japan turned out to be relatively safe with 1.9 in every 100,000.
Korea also other states in the number of pedestrian deaths per every 10,000 cars, with 1.36 - almost five times higher than Japan's record of 0.2.
Over three quarters of pedestrian deaths in Korea occurred in narrow side streets with a width of 13 meters or less.
. . .
While Korea struggles to rid itself of such an unenviable status, its police are increasingly adding to the overall traffic accident rate.
The number of traffic accidents caused by police vehicles has risen from 1,216 in 2006 to 1,352 in 2007 and to 1,733 last year, according to the data submitted by the National Police Agency to Rep. Shin Young-soo of the ruling Grand National Party.
The number of resulting casualties also rose from 500 in 2006 (two deaths) to 569 in 2007 and to 685 last year (two deaths).
Accidents caused by police vehicles as of the end of July reached 1,116 or 5.26 in average per day, leading to 311 injuries. If the trend continues for the rest of the year, there will have been an increase in police accidents, but resulting injuries will be down from last year.
South Korea was also tops when they put these figures out two years ago. In related news, South Korea was third among OECD nations in deaths of children in traffic accidents---Jeollanam-do was the first in Korea---and on that post I've compiled some other OECD rankings, since the local papers report just about every one. Actually, I know you won't click through, so I'll just quote myself from May:
Other data from the OECD has shown South Korea has the highest suicide rate, its people work the most number of hours (are at work the most I should say), has the highest rate of new TB infections, has a private sector that spends the most on public education, has the largest public school class sizes, is first in elderly poverty, ranks last in health spending, leads in motor vehicle accidents, and leads in accident rates among pedestrians. South Korea, according to the OECD Factbook 2009, is the least happy, and in a category that could go both ways, has one of the lowest birthrates in the world.
On the flip side, South Korea has the lowest obesity rate among OECD nations, the highest level of household internet penetration, is expected to recover the fastest from the current economic crisis, pays its public school teachers the second-highest salaries, has given us the greatest cultural inheritance of everything in the world, and ranks among the top in some academic areas that I don't have time to look into right now. In many of the articles and posts I linked to---sometimes on my own site to give context and revisit older news---you'll find other rankings vis-a-vis the OECD member nations. For example in the article about private sector spending on public education:Despite high education costs, Korea topped the OECD countries in population that has attained at least upper secondary education among those 25-34 age range. However, the percentage of parents who were satisfied with education quality was lower than the OECD average.
The report also found that Korea had a high ratio of students to teaching staff in higher education institutions. Korea ranked third in annual tuition for state-run universities at $3,883 following the United States' $5,027 and Japan's $3,920. In the case of private universities, the U.S. topped with $18,604. Turkey came next with $14,430 followed by Australia with $7,452 and Korea with $7,406.
However, Korean professors were paid more than the OECD average salary and their working hours were shorter than those of faculties in other countries.
All of this points to one thing: even more than foreigners love to say Korea is "not developed" or "third world"---it is developed, dumb ass, and it's not third world---Koreans love to see how their country compares statistically with others.
I've harped on poor traffic safety awareness for a while now, and after South Korea learns from the swine flu outbreak how germs spread, perhaps they'll give attention to this next. During "Mad Bull Shit," the season of panic over the thread of Mad Cow Disease from imported American beef, I recall seeing students at rallies in Gwangju holding these signs:
"살고 싶다!" means "I want to live," and I remember a few times here I recommended they hold these signs at crosswalks and stop signs, and instead of worrying about the imagined threat of Mad Cow Disease they instead show concern over the yearly tradition of students dying on school field trips because of poor driving.