Video: How honest are Seoulites?

Belif, a cosmetic company made an experiment about honesty. They left 100 paper bags in subways containing wrapped gifts and GPS. And of course, they made sure that the subway trains have CCTVs (not all subway trains in Seoul have CCTVs). So what happened?

87 of the bags were returned either to their places or to the Lost & Found division of the Seoul Metro.
I’ve been living in Seoul for 11 years and I can say that this is a place where giving back found things is not rewarded ~ because it is not a rarity. It is natural for people to not keep what isn’t theirs.
In restaurants, people will leave their phones on the table and their purses on the chair when they go to the restroom. There is no fear of having their valuables taken from them.
honest koreans
At my son’s favorite waffle kiosk near his school, the tray containing the day’s sales is right in front of the store. Customers could get their own change when they don’t pay the exact amount. The seller can concentrate on making waffles without removing his vinyl gloves.
Almost every friend has an anecdote of how they had their lost things returned to them. Someone I know forgot his iPad at a sauna place and when he returned hours later, it was displayed at the counter with a sign that it was left there.
Another friend forgot her wallet on a bench at a subway station. When she came back after 30 minutes, it was still there.
I don’t care here that my bag is wide open. And most of the women here do the same.
Of course there are dishonest Seoulites, but I believe they are far outnumbered by the honest ones. 😀


  1. So envious of how people can walk freely in Seoul…Sana someday ganyan din dito sa Manila, although there were few out there who have hearts to return things they’ve found…

  2. I want to call it mind setting. Before the CCTV was used publicly in South Korea, I guess there a lot of issues concerning all kinds of criminality. But when it was installed on almost all places, save your bedroom if you’re lucky, Seoulites were transformed to a robotic estate. Unforgiving of my comment you could be, but come to ponder a little bit. Would you in your right mind take something that doesn’t belong to you for everybody to see, much more of your knowledge that a CCTV is lurking beneath your head? They were aware of the CCTV’s so, why bother taking it? On the other hand, reporting lost items to ‘Lost and Found’ is commendable. I wish the Philippines will follow suit.

    1. I think it has more to do with economy and even without that experiment people tend to return things here. Sometimes they would even go out of their way to reach you.

    2. Probably not universally true, I’ve lived here for decades and long before CCTVs became popular, it has been a norm for shops to display their goods unmanned outside their shops, just a few inches away from the road. And guess what? Even kids will get their favorite junk food fix or toys and head inside the shop paying for their goods – sans cameras. It’s just how they are. It is commendable how inherently honest they are even without others watching them.

  3. nakakainggit naman. dito sa amin, mahirap baguhin ugali ng kasambahay namin na hindi naman siguro kinalakihan kundi malakas ang policy o paniniwala sa “finders keepers”. aniya nila hindi daw yun iiwanan ng basta kung mahalaga ang bagay na yun sa may ari haaaay talaga

Leave a Reply