Skip to comments.If Korea is so hi-tech, what’s with the lack of air conditioning in a heatwave?
Posted on 08/11/2018 7:30:37 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
While South Korea may be known as one of the worlds most technologically advanced countries, it is sorely lacking when it comes to air conditioning.
For many who live here, this has become painfully obvious as an unprecedented heatwave rages across the peninsula, killing at least 42 people since the end of May. The intense heat with the mercury rising to a sultry 39.6 degrees Celsius (103 degrees Fahrenheit) has forced people to seek refuge outside their homes.
I have a friend who has no air conditioning, said Kim Bum-ju, 29, a musician in Seoul. Their home gets so hot they dont come home until long after dark. When even the nights get too hot, they seek out karaoke bars.
Nearly everyone owns a smartphone in South Korea, where digital literacy is among the worlds highest, but there is a surprising deficiency in air conditioners. Figures from 2013, the latest available data, showed 67.8 per cent of the population had air conditioners at home.
In neighbouring Japan, which is grappling with its own heatwave, the government recognises air conditioning as a necessity worthy of subsidy. But South Korea has yet to link the modern convenience to public welfare, partly because of high electricity bills.
Korea, like Japan, charges three rates based on the level of electricity usage. But unlike Japan, there is a wider discrepancy between the slabs.
This incremental system is only applied to residential use, drawing the publics ire. Residential use makes up about 13 per cent of countrys energy demand while industrial use accounts for more than 55 per cent. Energy costs fluctuate depending on the time of year while the difference between costs is about 20 won, or almost 2 US cents, according to the Joongang Daily.
The unit price for those who use below 200 kilowatt hours (kWh) per month is set at 93.3 won, which jumps to 187.9 won per kWh for 201-400 kWh and 280.6 won per kWh for over 400 kWh. Under this system, a household that consumes 200 kWh a month would face a bill of 25,000 won (US$22.33). However, that bill increases to 250,000 won if it uses an air conditioner eight hours a day during the scorching heat.
Municipal and national governments have held emergency meetings to tackle the crisis, undertaking stopgap measures such as slashing electricity prices. But for many, this may not be enough.
For the hundreds of thousands who cant afford to escape the heat or afford air conditioning, the government has set up designated heatwave resting areas. In Seoul, there are more than 3,000 such cooling shelters open mainly during the day.
The most vulnerable are the elderly in rural areas, where the death rate from heat-related causes is 5.6 times higher than cities, according to Springer Science+Business Media, a publishing company.
In Goryeong County, in North Gyeongsang province known for its extreme summers and high elderly population, officials say they have redoubled their efforts to check in on seniors.
We have increased the number of elderly visits, said Yoo Ju-yeong, an elderly welfare executive. Weve also been passing out fans and cold water.
By 2050, 37 per cent of South Koreas population will consist of the elderly and heatwaves are increasingly becoming an issue in the rapidly ageing nation. Currently, almost half of the elderly population lives in poverty.
Migrant workers have also been hit. A 61-year-old Chinese man working in a tobacco field in Cheongju recently died of heatstroke. In June, a Vietnamese man, 58, died after signs of dehydration while working on a tobacco field. Last weekend, a Russian construction worker was found dead, possibly from heatstroke. For years, human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have called for an end to the exploitation of migrant workers in South Korea. In a 2014 report, Amnesty decried the unfair conditions many workers have to endure as well as the safety and health issues they faced. About 20,000 foreign labourers live in the province. Some live in storage containers, others in company dorms with no air conditioning and others in even worse housing conditions. Many migrants often work in premises with little or no air conditioning.
We have sent a letter advising to the local community to avoid working outdoors during the daytime, said Oh Hyun-jin, a safety policy official in Cheongju. But we cannot force private sector companies, including farms and factories, to stop working because of the heatwave.
They want to “save the planet”.
Is this actually a Chinese run paper? I think I saw another article where the Chinese in Hong Kong were sleeping in McDonald’s restaurants precisely because of their air conditioning problems.
Some government goon probably saw that and decided they needed to make the Koreans and Japanese feel bad for the same thing.
Number of Hong Kong McDonald’s ‘McRefugees’ sleeping in restaurants has skyrocketed
Korean idea of “hi-tech” is a shovel that is powered by 3 humans.
Maybe this is what Trump had in mind when he was selling Kim Jung Un about building hotels and making North Korea a tourist Mecca...
There are even personal sized swamp coolers that one places close where they are sitting or sleeping.
France doesnt use it either
Except for commercial buildings no one had AC in Colorado when I was growing up. True in California if you lived in the Bay Area. Didnt need it very often so why bother
Ive been in the summer...there are (traditional Korean style) spas to cool off or sweat it out in sauna on every corner it seems.
There is usually a ‘cold water’ mini pool and hot water etc...
This is typical in Asia. We have air conditioner/heaters for each room. When its too hot or too cold and you cant bundle up or strip off clothes to be comfortable, you turn them on. This is standard in Japan. If it gets too hot in the house, I go outside. No big deal. I like the contrast on the high-tech and the uncomprehensible to the outsider low-tech that we have here.
A hot enclosed space combined with kimchi driven flatulence does not mix.
Plenty of homes in the NE US with no AC.
Also in Korean culture, being cold is a big no-no...
Like iced drinks are traditionally looked down upon as being bad for health etc...
We put AC in our house on the peninsula when my wife was pregnant with our second child. We use it 10 to 20 days a year and it’s is wonderful. A nice luxury to have. Stucco houses are brutal...they absorb all the mid-day and afternoon heat on the south and west sides, then radiate it into the interior in the evening.
In south florida A/C is absolute.
We only have 2 seasons, hot and really HOT
The humidity is so high your sweat doesn’t evaporate cooling you off.
I drink at least 1 gallon of water when at work
New home owners had source their own if they chose to do so.
Not directly run by the government, but very close.
It wasn't so long ago that refrigeration/AC was reserved for the very rich in Korea (I'm sure that's still true in the North). Korean cuisine is based on a lot of pickled vegetables (Kimchee), which don't require refrigeration, because most people didn't have refrigerators or electricity until recently.
Even in the big cities the majority of housing predates A/C. It's common to see concrete hi-rise apartment buildings with electric cables attached to the OUTSIDE, feeding individual A/C units.
Energy is expensive, even hot water is a luxury in some places...
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.