South Korea’s solution to people crossing the road while looking at their phone has divided opinion

A viral TikTok, which shows how South Korea is allowing people to keep looking at their phones even when crossing the street, has left viewers divided.

The short clip, which is reportedly from the South Korean capital of Seoul, shows how the city has installed LED lights at the edge of pavements that change colour from red to green indicating when it is safe to cross the road.

According to the clip, which has been shared by @naturalkorean and has been viewed more than two million times, South Korea installed the “streetlights on the floor so you can keep staring at your phone”.

While this might sound like a simple and effective way of stopping people from needlessly wandering into traffic, many have been left dismayed that a country would have to install such measures just because people cannot stop staring at their phones.

One person wrote in reply: “I can’t believe some people care about their devices more than their life.”

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Another said: “This is a way of the government normalising walking while on your phone? This is not okay at all.”

A third said: “I mean it’s cool but sad what we are evolving into.”

However, not everyone was so negative, with some seeing the benefits for people beyond those who are glued to their phones.

“This is how society should work. Adapt to the people without judging,” said one person.

“That’s pretty useful for people that can’t see well. That crossing is pretty long so it could be hard to see the symbol in the distance,” added another.

A third person wrote: “Good for introverts and persons with social anxiety.”

Speaking to E&T, Kim Jong-hoon, a senior researcher at the Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology, said: “Increasing number of smombie accidents have occurred in pedestrian crossings, so these zombie lights are essential to prevent these pedestrian accidents.”

Smombie is a blend of the words smartphone and‎ zombie.

Pedestrian based road accidents are a significant problem in South Korea. According to the Korea Herald, there were 218 road traffic fatalities in 2020. 115 of these deaths involved pedestrians. In 2018, there were 247 deaths whereas in 2014 there were 399 deaths.

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