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Flooding in Chuncheon

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작성자 Kristine Kim
댓글 0 Comments 조회 706 Views 작성일 21-10-30 23:31

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We are becoming more and more familiar with climate change. The scientific and political discussions on the topic are unceasing, but to experience the consequences of climate change firsthand is a much scarier reality.  

Korea has its annual rainy season called jangma, usually from mid-June to the middle or end of July. It used to be fairly predictable, but the past few years have shown a lot more irregularities.  Some years it has not been coming at the predicted time, and the amount of rainfall now varies significantly, becoming much lower, or on the other extreme, having more frequent, and heavier downpours.

The most unforgettable rainy season I experienced was the one of August 2020.   The rain just kept coming for days. The bodies of water all around Chuncheon were swollen. Soyang Dam was reaching alarming levels, and emergency notifications kept popping up on our phones that Soyang Dam would have to release water and sightseers needed to stay away from that area.  The water level in the river flowing through the city was dangerously high - it almost reached the part of Soyang 2 Bridge where there is heavy traffic flow.  I had never seen water levels that high before, and there was fear spreading among people in the city that the water might make the bridge impassable. Thankfully, that did not happen.


But Chuncheon was not spared from tragedy. One of the projects that was being developed by the city had to do with artificial islands.  One of these extremely expensive “islands” was stationed in Uiam Lake next to Gongjicheon. The people working on the project went to secure their floating island from being swept away, but with the rising water level and strong current, they were carried away with it.  A police patrol boat was dispatched to help, but to everyone’s shock, it got caught in a wire near the dam and capsized.  Two more boats were sent to help these rescuers, but those also capsized. It was a domino effect tragedy. The rescuers were swept away by the raging waters to Uiam Dam, and after being carried by the surging current through the flood gates of the dam, hope was slim that there would be any survivors.  Countless police, government workers, and volunteers were on the banks of the river for several kilometers, frantically searching for any of the unfortunate victims of this accident.  In the end, 2 people were rescued, 4 bodies were recovered, and 2 remained missing.  Chuncheon rarely makes it to national news but this definitely did. It was a sad day for our city.


This is just one of the many flood stories that changed some families forever. It’s a wakeup call that climate change is not just on the news we hear about - it is already at our doorstep. Incidents like these are not isolated cases anymore, but symptoms of a larger looming crisis. Let us all do our part to help our world heal. Otherwise, we will have to live with the consequences.


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