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Evacuation alert error scares Seoul

May 31, 2023 - 07:46 By Son Ji-hyoung
This photo shows citizens in Seoul Station in central Seoul on Wednesday morning. (Yonhap)

The South Korean government said Wednesday a disaster alert it issued in Seoul at around 6:30 a.m. was issued in error after North Korea attempted to launch a space satellite.

According to an official at the Joint Chiefs of Staff of South Korea, the North Korea's projectile "flew over the Yellow Sea, and (its trajectory) had nothing to do with the Seoul and the neighboring areas."

This came as the Seoul Metropolitan Government issued a disaster alert calling for evacuation of Seoulites. A similar alert was issued for Baengnyeongdo, an island near the border between the two Koreas.

"Citizens, please prepare to evacuate and allow children and the elderly to evacuate first," read the alert at 6:41 a.m.

The disaster alert, however, was followed by a correction 20 minutes later from the Interior Ministry. "Notice that the alert issued by the Seoul Metropolitan Government was issued incorrectly," it said.

Seoul Metropolitan Government, however, did not lift the alert until at around 7:25 a.m.

"An emergency notice has been sent due to North Korea's missile launch. We inform you that the alert has been lifted in all areas of Seoul. Citizens, please return to your daily life," read Seoul's alert.

Since 2017, the autonomous local governments were given the authority to disseminate warnings in case of a disaster, along with the central government.

A spokesperson for the Seoul municipal government reportedly said the warning was made upon the request of the military forces in charge of capital city defense. But a presidential spokesperson Wednesday blamed Seoul city for "overreacting."

The Baengnyeongdo alert was lifted at around 8 a.m.

North Korea had previously announced it would be launching a satellite sometime between Wednesday and June 11.