A record snowfall almost paralyzed city life on Korea’s east coast over the weekend, as officials and soldiers struggled to restore normal life.
As of Sunday morning, some 1,280 residents of 640 households were stranded in their homes in major cities including Gangneung, Donghae and Samcheok, the emergency management agency in Gangwon Province said.
Damage caused by the snow was estimated to surpass 4.5 billion won (or $3.9 million), with 66 vinyl houses and seven stock-raising facilities caving in due to the heaviest snowfall in a century in the region.
The two-day snowfall reached 110 centimeters in Samcheok, 100.1 centimeters in Donghae, 56.3 centimeters in Daegwallyeong, a mountain pass near the east coast, and 42.8 centimeters in Sokcho as of Saturday evening.
A soldier hands over sodas to a motorist stranded on a highway due to heavy snowfall on the east coast Saturday. (Yonhap News)
On Friday alone, Gangneung got 77.7 centimeters of snow, the heaviest level since the weather agency started forecast back in 1911.
Forecasters, however, predicted more snowfall, up to 30 centimeters, on Monday in the region.
People living in the region have long been accustomed to seasonal heavy snowfall usually coming ahead of spring. However, their experience in dealing with snowdrifts did not prepare them for this weekend’s waist-high snow.
“I could pull my car out of the garage after clearing snow for one hour. However, I just walked out because the snow at the entrance and other cars had not been removed,” Kim Hak-soo, a 57-year-old resident, said in an interview.
“I have never seen a snowfall like this in my life.”
Local governments and transportation authorities had dispatched some 1,500 snowplows and 5,400 personnel to highways and major roads in the area.
About 2,000 soldiers along with public officials were sent to clear snow lying at entrances to villages and connecting roads.
Some sections of a highway linking Seoul with Gangneung were temporarily closed. Hundreds of motorists were stranded in their vehicles on a major road connecting several cities including Samcheok and Yangyang, but the road reopened after 34 hours of snow-moving work.
By Lee Ji-yoon (firstname.lastname@example.org)