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Heavy Snow Brings Jeonnam to Standstill

Posted December. 22, 2005 03:02,   


Heavy snow cut off Haesachon Village in Jeonnam Province from the rest of the world yesterday morning. Up to 3.7 cm of snow per hour fell, isolating the village completely.

About 30 greenhouses collapsed because of the heavy weight of the snow. Under the collapsed greenhouses were piles of small tomatoes damaged from cold weather.

The head of the village, Moon Hyeong-sik (45) said with a sigh that “some 120 soldiers from an airborne unit gave up on their restoration work because of the snowstorm. We rebuilt the collapsed greenhouses, but they fell down again.”

Lee Hui-nam (53), whose 800-pyeong greenhouses collapsed due to a snowstorm on December 4, said, “I have never seen a more severe snowstorm in my life." I have to get rid of the collapsed greenhouses and sow seed, but I don’t feel motivated to farm.”

Wolpyeong Village, about one kilometer from Haesachon Village was also cut off because of the snow. Villagers looked disheartened because personnel from the army’s infantry school nearby who were supposed to do restoration work failed to come, and because their supply of vinyl and lagging covers was cut off.

Kim Bong-ho (42) said, “Until yesterday, over 1,000 people were involved in restoration work. The work probably would have been completed by tomorrow if the work continued. However, because of the heavy snow fall, our hard work went down the drain. We may have to start all over from scratch.”

The total December snowfall in Honam Province hit a 67-year high since the first snowfall observations made by the Gwangju Meteorological Administration in 1938. Since December 4, the month’s total snowfall reached 162.7 cm in Jeongeup and 88.8 cm in Gwangju.

Due to the heavy snowfall, recovery work came to a halt. Some 8,000 soldiers and public officials were dispatched to the affected sites, but they withdrew due to the heavy snow and strong winds.

The Korea Highway Corporation directed traffic for 170 kilometers between Seosuncheon and Jeonju starting from 4:55 p.m. The Korea Highway Corporation and the police prevented cars from entering 21 interchanges and let cars onto the highway bypass toward the national road.

The operation of passenger ships in Mokpo and Yeosu in Jeonnam Province was suspended. Flights into and out of Gwangju, Yeosu and Gunsan were canceled.

Some 100 elementary schools in Kimje, Gochang and Buan were closed on December 22. The Gwangju Metropolitan Office of Education and the Jeollanamdo Office of Education left the decision whether to temporarily close schools with school principals.

Seung-Ho Jung Kwang-Oh Kim shjung@donga.com kokim@donga.com