|Seen is pepper spray, a popular self-defense weapon available online. Screenshot from the internet|
By Lee Hae-rin
The recent murder case at Sindang Station on lines 2 and 6, in which a Seoul Metro employee stalked and stabbed his former female colleague in her 20s to death in the station's bathroom, has led to an increase in sales of self-defense tools and weapons.
A Gyeonggi Province-based office worker in her early 30s, who wished to be identified only by her surname, Kim, said she bought an alarm device and pepper spray for her protection after reading about the subway station murder in the paper last week.
"I thought anyone could fall victim to such an incident anytime, so I decided to carry a weapon for self-protection," Kim said. "If such a horrific incident could happen in a busy neighborhood like that, I need to be the one to look after my safety."
Another Gyeonggi-based office worker, who also wanted to be identified only by her last name of Kwon, told The Korea Times that she has also started carrying pepper spray and a portable stun gun on her way to work every morning.
She said she hears about crimes and sexual harassment targeting women in the media every day and said she "feels unsafe without a self-defense tool since the Sindang Station murder incident."
Kwon added that she reactivated the emergency SOS function on her smartwatch, which automatically enables her to call an emergency contact at the press of a button, and said she had also chosen to wear sneakers instead of heeled shoes in case she needs to run away from a potential assailant.
Similar concerns of many women here, including Kim and Kwon, who no longer believe they are safe or under any basic protection, have led to an increase in the sales of self-defense weapons and tools.
Several self-defense tools, including pepper spray, emergency alarms, batons, self-defense knuckles and portable stun guns are available at prices ranging from 7,000 won ($4.90) to 30,000 won online. An official of a website selling self-defense items, who also wished to remain anonymous, told The Korea Times that the company has seen sales nearly double since the subway station murder incident.
On the website, many clients left reviews about their purchases, saying that they felt unsafe to walk around the neighborhood at night or afraid that someone would follow them into elevators or public toilets and harm them.
The official said that the gender ratio of its clients has come close to 50:50 these days, as many men have chosen to buy self-defense equipment as a gift for their female family members or partner. Many of the reviews by the male customers on the website said that they had purchased the items for their newly employed daughter or partner.
The characteristics of and instructions for using several types of self-defense tools have spread online as well.
One online user recommended a tactical flashlight as a more effective and safer self-defense tactic, because it could buy time for a victim to run away, while disorienting the assailant without physically hurting him, as the latter could later lead to the assailant filing a complaint.