Record numbers head overseas during Seollal

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Record numbers head overseas during Seollal

A record number of people chose to travel abroad during this year’s Lunar New Year holidays instead of gathering in their hometowns and attending traditional ancestral rites, according to figures from the Incheon International Airport on Friday.

An average of 202,000 travelers used Incheon Airport every day between Feb. 1 and 7, broadly considered the holiday season this year. The number is a 6 percent increase compared to the daily average of 190,400 people who traveled through the airport during last year’s holiday period, the airport said.

“It is the first time that more than 200,000 passengers traveled through Incheon Airport per day during major holiday seasons like Chuseok or the Lunar New Year holiday,” Korea’s largest airport said in a statement.

Regional airports also saw a boost in passengers during the holiday season. The average number of passengers using domestic services declined by 0.6 percent compared to the previous Lunar New Year holiday season, according to the Korea Airports Corporation on Friday, but those using international services shot up 19.9 percent.

The figure is likely a result of changing priorities among younger generations. Under Confucian traditions in Korea, following ancestral rites has been considered an important part of holidays like Chuseok and Seollal, but people are increasingly shunning the stress of preparing food for such rituals and looking for other ways to use the holidays.

“It’s hard to find time just to hang out with my family members in our daily lives, so I thought, ‘Why not travel and spend some time for ourselves this holiday?’” said Kim Ji-su, a 28-year-old from Gyeonggi.

Lee Ye-ji, a 28-year-old office worker from Gyeonggi, chose to go on a three-night trip to Da Nang, Vietnam, during the holidays.

“I didn’t want my relatives asking this and that about my personal life so I decided to travel alone,” Lee said.

The total number of passengers that traveled through Incheon Airport from Feb. 1 through 7 amounted to 1.41 million. Passengers at other regional airports, including Gimpo and Jeju airports, amounted to 1.66 million during the same period.

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