Demand for non-lethal defence equipment rises in South Korea

In the event of a knife threat or attack, local experts say it is crucial to be able to respond effectively, recommending people to prepare in advance.

Park Jun-hee

Park Jun-hee

The Korea Herald


File photo of non lethal defense equipment. PHOTO: 123RF/THE KOREA HERALD

August 8, 2023

SEOUL – Self-defense products are on the rise as people are turning to such items to arm themselves in the case of a random stabbing incident.

The number of transactions involving personal defense equipment saw a 123 percent increase on e-commerce platform Interpark compared to the same period last year, according to the company.

Sales of self-defense items increased by 202 percent July 9-21, over the same period last year.

In the event of a knife threat or attack, local experts here on Sunday said it’s crucial to be able to respond effectively, recommending that people make it a habit to prepare in advance with the proper safety equipment and information about how to respond in the event an incident.

As insecurity and anxiety worsen among the public, Lee Keon-su, a police department professor at Baekseok University, advises that people prepare by carrying non-lethal self-defense weapons as everyday objects.

Regardless of age, gender and one’s size or strength, Lee suggests having on hand a personal protection device that is legally available such as pepper spray, which shoots capsaicin to blind someone temporarily, a gas pistol that sprays toxic gas or shoots gas-filled projectiles or a three-tiered expandable baton with which to protect oneself in the event of an attack.

“It’s also important to look at people’s eyes or hands while walking, traveling or taking public transportation because you never know what will happen,” Lee added.

In knife attack situations, victims should ask for help so that others call the police, according to Lee. If a passerby witnesses an incident occurring, Lee said they should immediately escape to a nearby building and dial the police for help and come out after the police arrive to address the situation.

Lee also suggested that the government launch a real-time crime monitoring system that could inform people if there is a person carrying a hazardous weapon in their hand or if there’s a dangerous-looking person so that people can get to safety as quickly as possible and escape dangerous situations.


Kwack Dae-gyung, a professor in the College of Police and Criminal Justice at Dongguk University, highlighted the basic importance of being aware of one’s surroundings while traveling.

“It’s important for people not to get distracted by their mobile phones or earphones. Everybody on the streets, especially young people and students, are busy looking at their phones and listening to music, but this makes them defenseless and a ‘soft target’ to assailants,” Kwack said.

“People should also take the main paths and streets while walking or traveling as there’s a higher chance of being protected by other pedestrians and police if an attacker wields a knife,” he added.

Kwack also noted that people should know well their traveling route, as well as the location of exits and entrances and what buildings and shelters are nearby in order to respond in the event of a random knife attack or other emergency.

scroll to top