Hot weather helps force blackouts in South Korea
Traffic lights are out as traffic crawls through Seoul, South Korea, during a blackout on Thursday.
September 15th, 2011
08:16 AM ET

Hot weather helps force blackouts in South Korea

South Koreans found themselves sweltering in the heat, stuck in elevators and even without cell phone service Thursday as power outages affected hundreds of thousands of people across the country.

The South Korean Ministry of Knowledge Economy said high demand for air conditioning during a heat wave, together with reduced supplies as power plants were shut down for maintenance, likely led to the blackouts, the country's Yonhap news agency reported.

The country's sole electric service provider, Korea Electric Power Corp., said it was forced to cut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to prevent the electrical grid from falling below reserve levels that could lead to a nationwide blackout that could take days or weeks to recover from, according to the Yonhap report.

The power company instituted rolling blackouts that lasted about four hours, ending at about 8 p.m. local time.

The power cuts led to 100 reports of people trapped in elevators and shut down banks and schools, The Korea Herald reported. No injuries were reported.

Temperatures went as high as 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 Celsius) in Seoul on Thursday, about 10 degrees higher than average.

"There were many power plants that began their annual maintenance as the hot season passed. Demand was unusually high today while they were preparing for the cold season," a ministry official told Yonhap.

Temperatures in the 80s are expected to continue through Saturday.

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Filed under: Energy • Heat • South Korea • Weather
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. banasy©

    86 degrees.

    September 15, 2011 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
  2. Bob

    The end of the article really tells the story. Someone made a logistical mistake and didn't consider the weather forecast when conducting maintenance of power plants. We've known about this heat spell coming to Seoul for several days. It is to cool down considerably next week, though.

    September 15, 2011 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
  3. Billy G

    this guy predicted this!!! fully 100% no doubt! its incredible.
    Also, it figures they didn't predict this~
    Solar energy and all.

    September 15, 2011 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  4. Tom

    @banasy it's usually much cooler this time of year in Korea. Also, this didn't just affect Seoul – it affected Daegu, Changwon, Busan and many other areas of the country. My work was forced to shut down early today as it was impossible to teach in the dark!

    September 15, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. bobcat2u

    With all these people trapped in elevators, it probably would have been a good idea to give a heads up before they started the rolling blackouts. When I was stationed in Korea in '72, it was very rare to see anyone with air conditioning or a lot of the other conviences they have now. The place has become a lot more mdernized in that 40 years since. They are becoming a spoiled society just like us here in the good ole USA. 85 degrees is really not that much above normal for this time of year. But damn, those winters over there would make an eskimo run for cover.

    September 15, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. s kel

    I had had Army buddies sationed onthe DMZ at camp casy that told the summers there are brutal also.

    September 15, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Lee Denver

    comet elenin?

    September 15, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. gung hoe

    You got that right camp howze 77 to 78 basically same as kentucky Was best duty of my 4 yrs

    September 15, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. gung hoe

    Hi banasy how are ya Say you take 86 degrees and jack up the humidity and it would be toasty they have rice pattis all over so its quite humid

    September 15, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. gung hoe

    Heck i still have a sweat suit and wind breaker that i brought home with me

    September 16, 2011 at 2:21 am | Report abuse |
  11. Jared

    if they think 86 degrees is a "heat wave" then I'd love to see them live in Arizona.

    September 17, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  12. seong

    the temperature was in the low 90s in other parts of the country like Daegu (which I am currently living near), and when you factored in the humidity the temperature felt more like high 90s and low 100s. The heat wave was brutal, as soon as you stepped outside you were drenched in sweat. And, can we please stop with this, "They think ___ is hot, let's seem them live in ___" It's so stupid and pointless. Just because the temperatures wherever you are living are higher (also, Arizona has dry heat) doesn't mean that anything lower is pleasant.

    September 19, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
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