Freezing cold weather hit most of the nation Tuesday, the last day of this year, with the windchill dipping below minus 30 C in some mountainous regions of Gangwon Province, east of Seoul.
The Korea Meteorological Administration issued a cold wave alert or advisory for much of South Korea, excluding the southern island of Jeju, as the mercury dropped to the season's record lows of minus 10.9 C in Seoul and minus 9.9 C in Incheon on Tuesday morning.
In Gangwon Province, the nation's coldest region, temperatures plunged to minus 19.8 C on Mount Seorak, minus 13.7 C in Daegwallyeong, minus 11.7 C in Cheorwon and minus 8.9 C in Chuncheon as of 6 a.m., according to the KMA.
Notably, the windchill temperature is estimated to have dropped to minus 32 C in the Mount Seorak areas.
The weather agency said the latest cold spell was caused by the approach of a cold front from the northwest, forecasting the mercury will gradually rise starting Wednesday afternoon.
In the central region, where a cold wave alert was in effect, the mercury dipped to minus 13.5 C in Yeoncheon, minus 12.1 C in Yangju, minus 11.2 C in Pocheon, minus 10.9 C in Paju, minus 9.7 C in Suwon, minus 8.8 C in Jecheon, minus 7.9 C in Sejong and minus 7.1 C in Daejeon.
The cold wave also hit the warmer southern regions, forcing Busan, the southern port city, to issue its first cold wave advisory this winter.
Busan's temperature fell to minus 0.9 C, while the mercury dropped to minus 5.1 C in Daegu, minus 3.8 C in Gwangju, minus 6.9 C in Andong, minus 3.6 C in Geochang and minus 1 C in Changwon.
KMA officials said the daily high in the Seoul metropolitan area will remain below zero Tuesday, while the windchill will be much lower.
Grappling with freezing cold weather, citizens in Seoul and other cities went to work in thick winter jackets. There was a noticeable drop in pedestrians on streets.
Merchants in traditional marketplaces also struggled to cope with a sudden dive in temperatures.
The nation will remain under the influence of the cold spell until Wednesday morning, with daily lows forecast at minus 6 C in Seoul and minus 10 C in the Gyeonggi, Gangwon and Chungcheong provinces.
"The cold wave advisory is expected to be lifted in the southern regions Tuesday afternoon, though it will remain in effect in most central regions until Wednesday," a KMA official said. (Yonhap)