Record Cold Snap Hits Korea

Korea is in the grip of another cold spell ahead of Ipchun or the official beginning of spring by the lunar calendar on Saturday. The Korea Meteorological Administration forecast on Wednesday that the morning low would plunge to -17 degrees Celsius in Seoul on Thursday, the month’s coldest since -17.3 degrees on Feb. 11, 1957.

The KMA said the temperature would drop further on Thursday morning across the nation and, due to the wind chill factor, would feel like -23 to 24 degrees. Most of the northern area of Gyeonggi Province and the northwestern area of Gangwon Province were forecast to experience bitter cold, with temperatures below -20 degrees.

People bundle up against the freezing cold at a bus stop in Yongsan, Seoul on Wednesday. People bundle up against the freezing cold at a bus stop in Yongsan, Seoul on Wednesday.

The KMA attributes the freeze to a cold air mass advancing southward from the North Pole area with the expansion of continental high pressure. "This intense cold will continue until Friday morning before the temperature gradually rises from Friday afternoon. Then the nation will have comparatively warm weather until Monday," a weatherman said.

The Seoul City Education Office on Wednesday afternoon sent a notice to over 1,400 kindergartens and primary schools in the capital that allows them to take a day off or shorten the day on Thursday and Friday.

englishnews@chosun.com / Feb. 02, 2012 11:14 KST