Korea is experiencing atypical cool weather in the middle of summer, which coupled with the summer rainy season has translated into fewer vacationers visiting the country's beaches.
The Korea Meteorological Administration on Thursday said the average temperature during July 18-24 was between 20 to 24 degrees Celsius or 2-4 degrees below average, while the average daily high was between 23 and 28 degrees or 2-5 degrees lower than average.
In Busan, where Korea's most popular beaches are located, temperatures did not rise above 30 degrees for a single day in July, as against seven days in July last year. From July 1 until Wednesday, 4.38 million people visited the seven beaches in downtown Busan, less than half the numbers seen during the same period last year. Vendors at the beaches have been hit with an unprecedented slump in sales during peak season. Haeundae Beach, which opened on July 1, saw 1.72 million visitors this month, just 48 percent of the number seen during the same period last year. A total of 1.24 million people visited Gwangalli Beach, just 47 percent of last July's visitors.
The impact of low temperatures is more serious on the east coast. According to the Gangwon provincial branch of the KMA, the average high temperature in Gangneung city in July was 26.7 degrees, 3.6 degrees lower than last year. And Gangneung saw rain for 16 days so far this month, six more days than last year.
South Gyeongsang and South Jeolla provinces are doing a little better but are also seeing fewer vacationers. South Gyeongsang Province said 151,200 people visited its 15 major beaches so far this summer, which was down 15 percent compared to the same period last year.
Temperatures are expected to continue cool in early August. "It is customary for Korea to see the hottest temperatures of the year between the latter half of July and the first half of August as a high pressure front from the North Atlantic hovers over the country," the KMA said in a statement. "But this year, a strong cold front from the Sea of Okhotsk has led to cool temperatures like those seen in early autumn."