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Lunar New Year traffic jam begins, expected to peak in afternoon

Traffic surged on expressways around the country Wednesday as people headed home on the last day of the Lunar New Year holiday.

Heavy traffic began on expressways on Wednesday morning, according to the state-run Korea Expressway Corp. Vehicles on the Seohaean and Cheonan-Nonsan Expressways were moving at slower than 40 kilometers per hour as of 7 a.m.


Traffic congestion is expected to peak between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. and to continue through Thursday. The state agency predicted that traffic flow would ease between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. Thursday.

As of 11 a.m., it would take 6 hours, 50 minutes to travel from Mokpo, South Jeolla Province, to Seoul by car; 6 hours, 20 minutes from Busan; 5 hours, 50 minutes from Ulsan and Gwangju; 4 hours, 50 minutes from Daegu; and 3 hours, 40 minutes from Gangneung, Gangwon Province.

Some 4.8 million cars are expected to hit the road Wednesday, including 570,000 entering Seoul and 370,000 leaving the capital city.

To ease the congestion, vehicles will be temporarily allowed to drive on certain expressway shoulders, though this is normally prohibited by the Traffic Act. Exceptions include shoulders on the Gyeongbu, Yeongdong, Jungbu Naeryuk, Jungbu, Second Jungbu, Seohaean, and Nonsan-Cheonan expressways.

The Lunar New Year holiday took place from Monday to Wednesday this year.

By Lee Tae-hee (