Moon plans to stay busy during Chuseok
“The president will visit a traditional market on the holiday to meet with shoppers and merchants,” said a Blue House spokesperson. “He will also meet with younger merchants.”
The first lady, Kim Jung-sook, visited the Incheon Complex Fish Market on Tuesday to buy seafood products to be used for ancestral rituals, a norm in many households during Chuseok.
Chuseok falls on Wednesday. The government announced Oct. 2 as a temporary holiday.
This extra day off connects the previous weekend to the three-day Chuseok holiday on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the additional holiday on Friday, the following weekend and another national holiday to celebrate the creation of Hangul, the Korean alphabet, on Oct. 9, bringing the total vacation period to 10 days.
“President Moon will also give the radio traffic report on a day when most people are headed to their hometowns,” said the spokesperson.
Moon will also be visiting a local region, though the Blue House did not specify where. It added that Moon will be calling some government officials who are working through the holiday season to convey his gratitude.
Visiting traditional markets has been part of the tradition of former presidents during Chuseok.
Local governments and research institutes released traffic jam predictions and lists of hospitals that will be open throughout the holiday.
“We expect most people to be on the roads from Seoul to the countryside on Tuesday morning, and most on the roads back to Seoul on Wednesday afternoon,” said the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport in its press release. “People should expect to spend some six hours in the car if traveling from Seoul to Busan during the holiday season and some 7 hours and 20 minutes when traveling back from Busan to Seoul.”
The ministry said it expects a total of 37.17 million people to be on the road from Sept. 29 to Oct. 9, and an average of 5.77 million on the road every day. It said as many as 7.26 million may be on the road on Wednesday, the day of Chuseok.
It estimated some 4.47 million cars to be on the road every day during the holiday season, and that eight out of 10 people traveling in the country will do so by car.
“This is also the first time ever in a Chuseok season that passengers on the road will be exempted from highway tolls,” the ministry said. “Tolls are free throughout Tuesday and until midnight Thursday.”
The Seoul Metropolitan Government released a list of Seoul hospitals that will be open for the holiday.
“There will be 67 hospitals in the city that will be operating their ER rooms 24/7 from Saturday to Oct. 9,” it said. “Dial 119 or 120 [Dasan Call Center] to find out where the nearest operating hospital is located.”
Dasan Call Center’s foreign-language operators will not be available during the holiday. The Korea Travel Hotline 1330 operates 24/7 every day of the year, but only offers services in English, Chinese and Japanese.
BY WIE MOON-HEE AND ESTHER CHUNG [firstname.lastname@example.org]