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Snow Brings Industry to Standstill

Posted December. 23, 2005 03:00,   


Production in southwest Jeolla Province was temporarily halted by heavy snows on December 21. Production resumed in the afternoon of December 22, but the blocked roads disrupted the export schedule.

Some 20,000 civil servants and soldiers were assigned to snow-removal and restoration work, but the sheer amount of snow and the frozen roads proved difficult to deal with.

Damage from the snow is estimated to be about 200 billion won, and residents are pleading for emergency aid from the government.

Snow-Disrupted Industries-

Samsung Gwangju Electronics, the biggest manufacturing plant in Gwangju, stopped production at 3:00 p.m. on December 21 because heavy snow slowed down the company’s component transportation process. It restarted production at 6:00 p.m. on December 22, but already suffered losses of over 10 billion won because the closed Honam Expressway disrupted the transportation of 100 containers.

The Gwangju plant of Kia Motors did not stop operation, but shipping trucks bound for Mokpo New Port, located some 100 kilometers away, could not reach their destination.

The government’s Small and Medium Business Administration estimated that 215 small- and medium-sized businesses in neighboring provinces suffered 23.6 billion won in damages. The administration is planning to appropriate 60 billion won in disaster response funds for these companies.

“It is still snowing, so damages have not been fully reported yet. But the total loss has already surpassed 200 billion won, with 156.2 billion in South Jeolla Province, 43.3 billion in North Jeolla Province and 6.4 billion in Gwangju City,” said an official of the disaster center for Gwangju and Jeolla provinces.

Highways Return to Normal-

Thousands of cars were isolated for over 10 hours in a snowstorm due to an emergency traffic suspension issued by the Korea Highway Corporation on the afternoon of December 21. However, they all were able to leave the expressway by the morning of December 22 through a Gwangju toll gate and National Road One.

All flights from Gwangju and Jeju airports were grounded for two days, and no passenger liners were able to leave Mokpo and Gunsan ports.

In Gwangju, Jeolla Province, and Jeju Island, 1,196 elementary, middle and high schools were closed for the day. Some elementary schools decided to move up their winter vacations by more than a day, which had been originally slated for this weekend.

Kwon Kim Sung-Won Joo goqud@donga.com swon@donga.com