A Little Less of a Security Threat

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Andy Jackson’s quip about Korean New Year’s Day (February 3) brings up an old joke I heard often at Camp Humphreys during both Korean New Year and Thanksgiving.

Forget civil defense drills, the true test of the South Korean government’s ability to handle a mass evacuation of its capital city is taking place this well in the form of the Lunar New Year’s Day.

Only back then, veteran American officers and NCOs complained about the grand opportunity the Korean People’s Army would have when its Southern rival’s transportation system was so congested. These days, though, the larger cities remain populated, unlike in, say, 1999, when the streets were literally barren and all the shops closed. And, more Koreans, probably taking advantage of this year’s five-day weekend, are planning to leave the country completely.

Over 580,000 people in the county are expected to travel overseas by air during next week’s five-day Lunar New Year holiday, airport officials said Thursday, with carriers reporting near full flight bookings.

According to an estimate by the Incheon International Airport Corp., 588,902 passengers are expected to go abroad between Feb. 1 and Feb. 6. This is 13.9 percent more than last year, when the holiday was only for three days.


The number of overseas travelers for the Lunar New Year holiday has been on the rise, increasing from 331,783 in 2006 and 471,619 in 2007 to 516,743 in 2008. The figure dropped to 451,457 in 2009 but rose to 517,242 in 2010. (Yonhap)

Given the cold weather, I don’t blame these people. Still, from 1997 until now, judging by the number of families that don’t visit a relative in a village or small town in the interior of the country, I have to wonder how Korean traditions are faring in the face of modernity.

Korean New Year’s Day takes place on the second new moon after the winter solstice.

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Filed under: Korea, Spleen Tagged: camp humphreys, haeundae, korean new year's day


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