Snow causes commuting chaos in Seoul
Heavy snow overnight and freezing temperatures caused commuting mayhem during Seoul’s rush hour Thursday morning — even under the city’s roads.
“The doors to the subway froze so they had trouble opening and closing them,” an office worker told Yonhap News Thursday morning. “We spent over five minutes at each station because of malfunctioning doors.”
A train on Line No. 1 broke down in Dongdaemun District, eastern Seoul, around 7:25 a.m., as did a train on line No. 4 passing the same area around 7:50 a.m.
“I left home at least an hour earlier than usual, but still the subways were packed,” a 30-year-old commuter told Yonhap. “The situation on the roads would have been worse so I took the subway, but everyone must have thought the same thing.”
After heavy snowfall overnight, cold wave warnings were issued throughout the country, with temperatures on Thursday morning dropping to around negative 15 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit) in the greater Seoul area, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA).
Traffic, though lighter than usual according to police, was sluggish during rush hour on the Olympic Expressway near the Han River, as well as in the Gwanghwamun and Euljiro areas of central Seoul, Gangnam District in southern Seoul and Yeongdeungpo District of western Seoul.
Heavy snowfall on Wednesday evening trapped dozens of homebound commuters. From 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., there was 3.8 centimeters (1.5 inches) in Seoul, around 2.4 centimeters in Incheon and 5 centimeters in Suwon, Gyeonggi, according to the KMA.
“I’ve been stuck in this bus home for nearly seven hours,” one passenger on a bus that travels between Seongnam and Gwangju in Gyeonggi wrote in an online community around 4:30 a.m. “I can’t even get off because there’s literally nothing else around us […] other than other buses and their passengers.”
The post sparked responses from others, with one person claiming to have been on a bus for 10 hours — and having to get ready for work Friday morning almost immediately after returning home.
Amid the chaos on Wednesday, a delivery driver labor union issued a statement imploring customers to not order food in.
“Riders are stuck on slippery hills, and many have fallen off their bikes, please stop ordering in tonight,” Rider Union, a union of delivery drivers, wrote on Facebook Wednesday night. “The lives of our drivers are at stake."
The KMA said Thursday the country should be ready for zero to negative 10 degrees Celsius temperatures in the mornings for the next five days.
BY JEONG HYE-JEONG, ESTHER CHUNG [email@example.com]