Hot under the collar? Don’t forget winter

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Hot under the collar? Don’t forget winter


Finally, my wife turned on the air-conditioner. Whenever I complained, “Is the air-conditioner only for decoration?” or “Why did you buy the AC in the first place?” she always claimed it was not that hot. People are working outside, she said, making it cooler is not good for health. But this time, she turned it on by herself and we could enjoy the pleasant, breezy air. We will worry about the electricity bill later.

AC sales have plummeted because of the economic slump, but lately they are selling briskly. Hi-Mart, a major home appliances chain, sold 14,775 units on July 29, a record number of sales for one day. Generally, air-conditioner sales peak in late June or early July, before the hottest part of summer.

But this year, appliance stores hardly sold any air-conditioners until mid-July due to low consumer confidence. But unbearable heat waves continue all over the country, and consumers have started to buy. The scorching heat defeated the economic slump.

The sweltering heat began in late July, and temperatures have risen to 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit) all around the country, except for some areas on the eastern coast. An excessive heat watch and alert have been issued. On Tuesday, the temperature reached 40.6 degrees Celsius in Gyeongsan, North Gyeongsang. Residents of Seoul suffered from seven consecutive tropical nights from July 28 to Friday. If the lowest temperature between 6 p.m. and 9 a.m. is higher than 25 degrees Celsius, it is considered a tropical night. At 5:20 a.m. on Thursday, the lowest temperature of the day in Jeonju, North Jeolla, was 29 Celsius, the highest minimum since the meteorological survey began in 1918. This spring was abnormally cold, and some experts predicted an unusually hot summer.

Unless you fly to the Southern Hemisphere, where it is winter, you cannot escape the heat on the Korean Peninsula. An excursion to a beach or a mountain stream may provide instant cooling, but you would end up getting frustrated by the heavy traffic and crowds. Maybe, it’s best to stay home, take a cold shower and enjoy the cool air from the fan.

Workers are paving roads and building structures in the heat. Farmers toil in their fields, and workers at barbecue restaurants make charcoal fires and grill meats. You might complain that the indoor temperature set at 28 Celsius is not cool enough, but office workers at least get to spend the day in a comfortable environment in the hottest summer. Last winter was especially cold and long, and we all missed the scorching sun. Put up with the summer a bit longer, and the heat will be gone soon.

*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Bae Myung-bok
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