Why are there so many kouban (police boxes)?

Although Japan does have a low crime rate, Korea’s is just as low and there are far fewer police boxes here. In fact, in Japan one of the main duties seems to be giving people, or even taxi drivers, directions. Same crazy house numbering system here, though, with a whole block having the same number and the blocks labelled chronologically rather than in order along the street. There is a crucial difference connected to that which I hadn’t thought of though:

“In Japan, you can’t even stop strangers and ask for simple directions when you are lost [due to the taboo against talking to strangers]. If you get lost, you  look for a policeman, who will help you because that is part of his job”

That’s an exaggeration, but Korea does have more of a Mediterranean feel of old ladies sitting on street corners who you can ask, and a crowd of people slowly gathering to all look at the map or address and exchange mutually contradictory advice

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1 Comment

  1. October 16, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    I didn’t know about house numbers when I was there. I don’t think they had them. Most of us asked other soldiers.


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