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More Koreans Traveling Despite Shorter Holiday

Posted September. 13, 2008 08:57,   


Despite a shorter Chuseok holiday period this year, more Koreans are hitting the road for the annual exodus to their hometowns.

The Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs Ministry said yesterday that 34.4 million people, or 6.88 million per day, are expected to travel over the three-day weekend, up 2.3 percent from last year.

With the Chuseok holidays beginning yesterday, Seoul Station and Gangnam Express Bus Terminal were crowded with travelers and those looking for tickets.

As people packed their bags for family reunions, streets near Seoul Station and bus terminals grew more crowded.

People hoping to get tickets from last-minute cancellations stayed around ticket windows even after hearing all tickets were sold out.

Most schools and businesses will have just Monday off, so more people are expected to stay home or arrange a departure schedule.

One self-employed man heading for his hometown from the Gangnam bus terminal with his wife said, “My children had to go to school today, and only my wife and I are going to our hometown. We decided to leave early since we have to return early to open our shop Tuesday.”

A female office worker said, “I took a day off from work but my husband didn’t. So I`m leaving for home alone.”

Political party leaders including the ruling Grand National Party`s Park Hee-tae and the main opposition Democratic Party`s Chung Sye-kyun greeted people at Seoul Station.

In the morning hours yesterday, highways showed no signs of traffic congestion, but got crowded as a mass of vehicles began leaving Seoul in the afternoon.

Korea Expressway Corp. said traffic will take about 90 minutes more than usual. Travel time of six hours and 20 minutes was expected between Seoul and Busan; five hours and 40 minutes between Seoul and Mokpo; four hours and 50 minutes between Seoul and Gwangju; and three hours and 30 minutes between Seoul and Daejeon.

Bong Yeong-chae of the corporation said, “Though road congestion at the moment is heavier than on weekends, it is likely to be 10 percent less crowded than the same period last year.”

Of 350,000 vehicles expected to leave Seoul yesterday, some 210,000 left by 4 p.m. Another 290,000 are expected to hit the road today, according to the corporation.

“Traffic is likely to become congested from Friday night and get heavier Saturday as office workers begin to travel after work,” said another official.

The Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs Ministry said roads will be heavily congested today between 6 a.m. and 12 p.m. and tomorrow between 12 p.m. and 6 p.m.

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