February 24, 2021 11:12
Mountain-climbing accidents in Seoul surged 33 percent last year to 1,745 cases as beginners hit the trails during the coronavirus epidemic.
The Seoul Metropolitan Fire and Disaster Headquarters said Tuesday more beginners in their 20s and 30s took to steep trails and suffered accidents because they climbed only in leggings, sneakers and other leisurewear rather think hiking gear, or simply got lost.
There has been a sharp increase in mountain hiking since the epidemic erupted. The number of people who climbed Seoul's popular Mt. Bukhan alone increased some 15 percent to 6.56 million.
A staffer at the Korea National Park Service attributed the increase to the lockdown of gyms and other indoor sports facilities that has driven fitness fanatics into the great outdoors.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government employs only 28 mountain rescue workers who swarm up and down the capital's mountains four or five times a day at the weekend to deal with accidents.
There has also been a rise in couples who get lost while looking for secluded byways. A staffer at the city's fire and disaster headquarters said, "Most of the couples who get lost were novice climbers." Some 33 percent of distress calls were made by climbers in their 20s.
Two or three accidents a year involve people falling off a cliff while taking selfies.
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