A report in the Korea Daily notes that incidences of pick pocketing in Spain and other parts of Europe are on the rise, symptomatic of the region’s dire economic conditions, and that Korean travelers are becoming something of a target.
One backpacker, a college student on vacation, was robbed in broad daylight in Barcelona by three assailants who, the paper notes, distracted the unsuspecting tourist by spraying him with a water gun before making off with his wallet and passport. When the victim entered the local police station to file a report, he found several other Koreans who had also recently been the target of local thieves.
A Spanish police officer quoted in the report blamed the country’s high unemployment and flailing economy for the rise in petty thefts. Spain’s unemployment rate has hovered well above 20 percent since the global economic crisis in 2008.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of South Korea noted that thefts involving Korean travelers to Europe last year spiked to 1,476. This is compared to 834 theft cases in 2009. The number already surpassed 759 cases in July of this year.
Travel to the region by Koreans is up 7 percent this year, according to Korea’s tourism ministry.
Greece was highlighted, alongside Spain, for the high number of thefts reported there.