Korean Blizzard
© NEWSISSoldiers are mobilized yesterday morning to remove snow from roads in front of tollgates near the Baekyang Tunnel in Sasang District, Busan. As snow was not cleared in time, dangerous roads caused traffic jams during rush hour. Heavy snowfall is rarely seen in the southern port city.
Yesterday's rush hour was a nightmare for a 47-year-old civil servant surnamed Roh who commutes from Gimhae to Changwon, South Gyeongsang, every day.

He left home at 6:15 a.m. and reached the Changwon Tunnel that connects the two cities in 10 minutes, but soon had to turn his car around as the tunnel was closed due to snow.

Roh then passed through Jangyu and Dongmasan IC (interchange) and finally arrived at his office in Changwon at 9:40 a.m.

It usually takes only 25 minutes if he takes the tunnel route, but it took 3 hours and 25 minutes.

On his way to the office, many vehicles were waiting for assistance after being damaged in car accidents due to the slippery roads.

"It doesn't snow much in Gimhae," Roh told the JoongAng Ilbo. "Not many drivers have tire chains. It was terrible to drive because many roads are icy due to the early morning snow."

The Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) said yesterday the Chungcheong and southern regions of the country, including Busan, Ulsan and South Gyeongsang, had heavy snow from 1 to 3 a.m.: 31 centimeters (12 inches) on Ulleung Island; 20 centimeters in Geoje, South Gyeongsang; 16 centimeters in Hapcheon; 14.6 centimeters in Jinju; 15.5 centimeters in Daegwanryeong; 12.4 centimeters in Daegu and 8.5 centimeters in Gumi as of press time.

However, residents in the southern and Chungcheong regions had to deal with snow and icy roads all day long as the local governments in the area poorly managed the situation.

As they failed to remove snow early, about 20 roads in Busan, 24 roads in South Gyeongsang, 11 roads in Daegu and North Gyeongsang, and eight roads in Ulsan as well as roads in mountain regions were closed.

At 8:25 a.m. in Gimcheon, North Gyeongsang, a 53-year-old man surnamed Moon who was driving on the Gyeongbu Expressway to Daegu was killed when his trailer slipped on the icy road and crashed into guardrails.

The Dongseo Overpass that services the city of Busan was closed at 4:30 a.m., causing serious traffic congestion in the central city as the overpass is directly connected with many other roads in the city. Busan Police said it took more than two hours to travel the two-kilometer (1.2-mile) Gaya Boulevard that connects the Seomyeon and Dongseo overpasses.

"Media reported heavy snow last night, but I don't see any civil servants removing the snow," a Busan citizen said.

Subway stations in Busan were crowded with many citizens who chose to take public transportation instead of driving, and most flights at the Daegu, Gimhae and Ulsan airports were canceled.

Workers in Ulsan, which has many corporate factories, were late to work. Others had to stay home.

The KMA said yesterday's snowfall in South Gyeongsang set a new record for December.

In areas around Changwon Tunnel and Bulmosan Tunnel, where there are steep roads, vehicles without snow chains were stuck on the icy roads for three to four hours.