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[NEWSMAKER] South Korea hit by abnormal heat wave

Demand for electronic goods soar as citizens strive to endure hot weather

Seoul has seen the most heat wave days this summer since 1994, while southern port city Busan has recorded its highest temperature in more than a century, according to the state weather agency.

Over the weekend, Seoul continued to see daily high temperatures of around 33 degrees Celsius that began last week and daily lows of over 25 degrees Celsius, according to the Korea Meteorological Agency.

The temperature soared to 37.3 degrees Celsius in Busan on Sunday, a record high since 1904. Its morning low was 29 degrees Celsius.

The KMA said Sunday that Seoul saw a total of 16 days stricken by the heat wave since June 1, the highest number since 29 days were observed in 1994.

Heat wave days as classified as when the daytime high reaches over 33 degrees Celsius.
People walk past a pedestrian crossing while the air simmers over a road amid the heat wave that has swept across South Korea. Yonhap
People walk past a pedestrian crossing while the air simmers over a road amid the heat wave that has swept across South Korea. Yonhap
The KMA added that heat wave warnings were announced for 11 consecutive days this year. The warning is announced when the temperature hits 35 degrees Celsius and continues for at least two consecutive days.

The tropical night phenomena also continued for almost every day during the past month, with the nighttime low at over 25 degrees Celsius, it added.

The KMA said earlier this month that the record-breaking hot summer weather had been influenced by weather in northern China.

It explained that heated air that was created in northern China had risen to a high altitude and moved across southern Russia and the Korean Peninsula, before descending on South Korea. The migration happened at the same time as a high pressure system formed over South Korea, preventing the formation of clouds and exposing the country to more sunlight.

The KMA said that it was eyeing typhoon Chanthu, which was moving northward from near Tokyo as of Monday afternoon.

Although typhoon Chanthu would not have a direct influence on the peninsula, the KMA said that it expects to see changes in atmosphere that could bring the temperature down.

Meanwhile, the government said Friday the country’s total electricity use has set a new record.

The maximum electricity usage soared to 85.18 million kilowatts on Friday, surpassing the previous record of 84.97 million kilowatts set Thursday.

According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, the electric power reserve ratio also went down to 7.22 million kilowatts.

If the figure falls below 5 million kilowatts, a state alarm is automatically issued.

Local retailers also said they saw record-high sales of air conditioners and fans, as consumers tried to cope with the hot weather.

According to local electronic goods retailer Lotte Hi-Mart, this summer saw the highest number of air conditioners sold since 2012.

The sales volume of fans also increased by 60 percent on-year.

Industry workers said that the number of fans sold over the first 11 days in August already surpassed the total amount sold in August last year.

It added that most consumers purchased energy-saving models amid continued public concern regarding electricity bills and the progressive electricity rating system. Responding to such concerns, the government and ruling party announced Thursday they would slash electricity bills for households from July to September this year.

Of the 40 models of air conditioners sold at Lotte Hi-Mart, the top 10 best-selling models were marked as first grade energy-saving devices.

Industry sources predicted the total sales of cooling devices would reach a new record as the sweltering heat is to continue for several more weeks.

“We are trying to push manufacturers to produce more electronic devices following customer demand, but it is not easy since factories have a fixed capacity to manufacture goods,” an official from Lotte Hi-Mart was quoted as saying.

By Kim Da-sol (
Korea Herald daum