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Sunday, 1 April 2007

Yellow Dust in Korea...thanks China

If you're considering coming over to teach English in Korea, you may want to keep the following in mind. It's known as Yellow Dust (or Asian Dust), or what I like to term "YD" (it reminds me of KD), and it originates from the desertification of the Gobi Desert in Northern China. Intense sandstorms blow the dust over South Korea, conveniently picking up pollutants in the air from an industrializing China. The dust can cause respiratory problems and eye problems (I've been lucky enough to have pink eye twice so far) so it is advised to stay indoors during these storms. So if you have a respiratory problem, YD might not be the best thing for your lungs when you're coming to teach English in Korea.

As if living in a city with 12 million people doesn't produce enough pollution and smog already, YD is just the cherry on top. The Korea Times reported that yesterday was the worst yellow dust of the year. Check out this picture taken by the Korea Times (you can barely make out the 63 Building):

Compare this to a clear summer's day...and you can see the real extent of YD on the city:

If you do venture outside, you should wear a mask to help alleviate the affects of the dust (although I'm not too sure how effective they really are). Normally on a clear day we can see Seoul Tower in the distance from our officetel. Yesterday, we could barely see past condo towers 100 meters down the street. So in situations like this, it is advised to stay indoors. We thought it would be the perfect day to go out and explore the city!

Okay, so it wasn't the brightest idea because my throat was started to hurt. We ended up buying some masks but they didn't help that much. The reason being is that when you breathe in, air still seeps in still from the sides of the mask. The only solution is to buy a gas mask...but that might be overdoing it.

Want another opinion on YD? Check out this informative and interesting post on yellow dust from I'm A Seoul Man (a guest post by his wife, "The Bat"). There is a link to the Yellow Sand Monitor System setup by the US Military. When the dust concentration per microgram/m3 reaches 1000, it's considered hazardous. Check out what it was on April 1st, it literally was off the chart! Now that's what you call a dirty April Fool's joke!

This picture was taken outside my classroom a few days ago...check out the YD:

This was taken yesterday at Cheonggyecheon stream ...notice the YD in the distance as the sun was setting:

Yesterday we saw the highest number of people wearing masks outside...for good reason too...YD hurts your throat like a mother-shut-yo-mouth!

Don't get mad at China for YD. Take out your anger on someone else, that will make you feel better. My scapegoat was the Colonel from KFC...how's this for finger lick'n good buddy!

"Wow, I thought this guy was dead!" -random Korean girls taking pictures of Colonel Sanders

*edit* I had a student tell me today that the number one search term on Naver (one of the most popular Korean search engines) on Saturday was "not go to school". Since most students have school on Saturdays, they wanted to see if school was going to be canceled due to YD!

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Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness! That looks so terrible. My sister said that she even got a warning SMS from the government (I don't know how they got her mobile number) to stay indoors yesterday. It is really awful.

By the way, you might want to eat more samgyeopsal from now on. Apparently it is good for cleansing heavy metals from your body.

Anonymous said...

Very nice blog.. but i especially like these photos!!

Everyday Weekender

Unknown said...

When does the sandstorm season end? Would traveling to Korea in May be okay?

Anonymous said...

Would traveling in the summer be ok? Like for the month of July?

kushibo said...

I still haven't figured out how to post links, so I'll just let you know I cited this post here.

bob said...

Interesting about the yellow dust, I lived there ages ago but never noticed the dust. Perhaps it has gotten worse over time? The pollution has always been bad though.

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