It could take about two hours longer than last year for travelers to reach their ancestral hometowns for the lunar New Year given severe congestion due to the brevity of the break this year.
Traffic is forecast to peak on Feb. 9, a day before Lunar New Year's Day. The trip from Seoul to Busan will take up to nine hours and 10 minutes, and to Gwangju seven hours and 10 minutes, the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs warned Tuesday.
The trip to Daejeon will take up to five hours and to Mokpo, South Jeolla Province eight hours and 10 minutes, which is some two to three hours more than last year.
The trip from Seoul to Gangneung will take about four hours and 30 minutes.
The return trip to Seoul will take about as long as last year, with nine hours from Busan, four hours and 50 minutes from Daejeon, seven hours and 10 minutes from Gwangju, eight hours from Mokpo, and four hours from Gangneung.
According to a telephone survey of 8,000 households nationwide by the Korea Transport Institute on Jan. 3 and 8, the largest proportion or 37.7 percent said they would leave for their ancestral hometowns on the morning of Feb. 9. And 34.3 percent said they would set off on their return journey on the afternoon of Feb. 10, Lunar New Year's Day.
Some 29.19 million people are expected to leave for their ancestral hometowns for Lunar New Year's Day this year. The government decided to extend service hours of Seoul city buses and subways until 2 a.m. for people traveling back to Seoul on Feb. 10 and 11.