S'porean woman, 24, in Seoul gets punched by stranger, passerby had to pull assailant off 

The woman shared her encounter on Reddit to remind Singaporeans to be careful overseas.

Ruth Chai | January 14, 2024, 06:23 PM



A 24-year-old Singaporean woman was crossing a street in South Korea when she was suddenly punched several times by an assailant in broad daylight on Jan. 12, 2024.

Thankfully, a passerby pulled the assailant off her.  The Singaporean woman then fled the scene in a panic, and proceeded to lodge a police report.

The woman shared her plight on Reddit in an effort to remind Singaporeans to be careful overseas, and shared several tips on what to do when encountering trouble abroad.

Was punched in the face without warning

Speaking to Mothership, the woman, who wanted to be known as Ng, said that she had just completed her undergraduate programme in Korea.

She was crossing a street near her apartment in Hwigyeong-dong, located in Dongdaemun, Seoul, at around 4:15pm when she noticed a man standing at the opposite side of the street.

Photo via Ng. Ng said that the man stood at the green cross. She only noticed his presence when she reached the blue cross.

The man was Korean and looked younger than her. She estimated that the man was about 18 to 22 years old. His height was similar to hers, which is 174cm.

He was clad in black, but Ng explained that most Koreans dress in all black attire during the winter. Thus, his looks did not arouse her suspicions.

She was looking down while crossing the street, and did not notice the man until she was within arm's reach. She promptly looked up.

Out of nowhere, the man punched Ng square in the face.

"It happened and ended so fast it almost didn't feel real," she said.

The man continued to hit her, and she recalled being hit around four or five times before another man pulled her attacker off her.

She was stunned and bewildered. The man didn't say anything prior or while he was attacking her. She was utterly puzzled why she would be attacked in the first place.

Ng added that most people she had met in Korea found it hard to discern her from a local, thus the attack was unlikely to be xenophobic in nature.

Once the attacker was pulled off her, she fled the scene.

Composed herself and called the police

It took Ng 20 minutes to regain her composure and call the police.

"I know I probably should have called the cops immediately but your brain really just fails to function in such a situation," she said.

She also called her friend who lived nearby, who rushed down to help.

The police arrived and took her statement. Ng was told that she will receive a call when the case is assigned to an officer.

She noticed that there were no working CCTV cameras pointing directly at the street, and admitted that it was going to be hard to track the man down as she did not get a good look at him and he was dressed inconspicuously.

An old man had witness the ordeal, but fled the scene as well. Ng couldn't recall if there were any other witnesses, but believed that even if there were, they would be impossible to get hold of by now.

"Perhaps because I didn't appear visibly injured, or because I didn't seem in distress, or because I'm non-Korean, but [the police] left the site after taking down some detail," Ng said.

Was traumatised from the incident

Miraculously, Ng said that she did not sustain any physical injury apart from a small scratch and bruising.

Photo via Ng

However, the incident traumatised her and she didn't dare to walk home alone that day.

Ng said what while she was waiting for help, "every other man of similar age and height that I saw made me freeze".

"Since I can't remember his face, everyone else that has a similar build as him feels like it's him and that they are going to attack me."

She also mentioned that in Seoul, there's an initiative called "Safe Return Home Scout" where volunteers walk females home from the subway station if they feel unsafe. She subsequently asked a volunteer to accompany her home after the incident.

"Never let your guard down"

Ng said that she posted her encounter on Reddit to remind others "never let [their] guard down in public".

In addition, she shared some advice which would be useful for those who find themselves in a similar situation.

If caught in a similar situation, Ng's advice is to scream in order to attract attention. Most people generally look down at their phones and fail to pay attention to their surroundings.

She also said that it is vital to get a witness to talk to the police and to remember the assailant's appearance.

"I know it sounds like a given, but when your brain goes into shock it kinda stops working and you don't think about anything except how to escape the situation and remove yourself from the perpetrator."

Prior to this encounter, Ng gave little thought to her response in such a situation, which led to her being unprepared.

She stressed the importance of calling the police immediately and to visit a clinic or a hospital to get a checkup done after. Most importantly, a medical record of any injury might be useful in the future.

"Such things seem like they only happen to others in the news but it's very real and it can happen to anyone. So please be careful, and I know it's close to impossible but try not to panic and stay rational if something happens, instead of just fleeing like I did."

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Top photos via Ng