Thursday, September 23, 2010


Typhoon Fanapi poured up to 10 cm of rain per hour over Seoul on Chuseok day (261 mm overall, a record for September), causing major damage in Seoul, Incheon, and Gyeonggi-do. More than 10,000 homes (including the 70 year old Seoul Mayor residence in Hyehwa-dong, which was to be relocated anyway*), were damaged by this unusually late monsoon.

If you were there, you probably witnessed spectacular scenes on the streets : streams forming here and there, geysers breaking pavements apart, meter-wide holes cutting traffic on major roads, cascades springing from doorsteps, cars stuck into newborn ponds...

Should Seoul organize olympic games again, Gwanghwamun Lake would make a perfect spot for rowing events. And as I carefully drove across the two feet deep Yonsei Stream, I was surprised not to see any kayakist enjoy the moment (during a similar event in France, I did come across one on a main street).

This typhoon wraps up an extremely humid summer, and whoever the culprit (global warming, the Three Gorges Dam, La Nina, the cashmere industry in Mongolia, Lee Harvey Oswald, all of the above), Korea will have to adapt. Among other things to be redesigned : parts of the sewage and drainage systems, certain road curves, and a few dangerous spots, such as the tunnel connecting Sangamno with Gangbyeon Expressway, where some drivers even drowned in previous flash flood episodes.

Seoul Village

* a new residence is under construction in Hannam-dong, this one is supposed to be transformed into a Seoul Global Business Center for small- and medium-sized enterprises.

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