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Springtime woes in South Korea

April 8, 2009

Allergies may be the main cause of problems people usually associate with spring. Fresh pollen awakens the sleepy senses from their winter hibernation, fits of sneezing and coughing occur driving people indoors or to the pharmacist. In South Korea it’s a little different.  Springtime causes despair for all Koreans courtesy of China’s deserts.

Imagine fine grain sand slowly infiltrating your lungs, breathing passage, sitting comfortably on your lips, stinging your eyes and tickling your nose. In Seoul, the sand is at its worst. Depending on the wind, backgrounds hide, middle grounds fall out of focus and foregrounds hazy.

by Cate

by Cate

Difficult to believe there are actually tall buildings in the middle of this picture behind the bridge. They have disappeared behind the drifting wall of sand. Depending on the air currents, the sand can block out most of the view. Like dense fog only hazardous to health.

Spring in South Korea is short-lived. Once the air warms the buds and blossoms brave the temperatures, the sands appear alongside the rain. And the blossoms are no more. To appreciate spring in South Korea, it’s a matter of timing. Leave it too long and you could miss out. Too early and the trees haven’t woken up.

by Cate

by Cate

Sand and timing aside, spring brings new life, new plans and brighter outlooks. In Seoul it brings out thousands of people: families, colleagues, girlfriends and photographers; strangers with one goal in mind. To welcome in the new season, before it quietly slips away.

by Cate

by Cate

Air Quality in South Korea during Spring

Asthmatic and other allergy sufferers thinking about moving to Korea or travelling here should take note of the air quality between March to June. This is when the wind currents change direction in China moving the sand onto the Korean peninsular and Japan. The area of Seoul is usually effected the most. You can buy special masks to protect you, these are available in most pharmacies.

The best time to see the Cherry Blossoms is usually the first to second week of April. Yeouido park and neighbouring Han river are worth visiting. Get there early–very early. Take subway line number 5 to either Yeouinaru or Yeouido.

Caffeinated Traveller

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7 Comments
  1. April 8, 2009 4:14 pm

    O.K. I need to ask. It’s time. I’ve searched for a FAQ or something like that… but I must know, what camera are you shooting with? And what type of post processing do you do? Do you convert to B+W from a colour image, or does your camera just have a fantastic B+W filter?

    I love your images.

    • April 9, 2009 12:42 pm

      Hey thanks for the compliment. I never really take my photos seriously as much as I should. Too critical I think. I use a Nikon D80 body with an AF-S Nikkor lens 17-55mm,it cost more than the body but well worth it. Most of my shots are edited in BW using photoshop 6. Sometimes I shoot in BW mode.When I shoot in colour I’m always thinking how it would look in BW as well.
      I usually manual shoot in A priority mode and I do edit images not too much just adjusting the lighting and contrast and colour noise.The shots I took on this post were shot as is and adjusted for lighting in photoshop. The pollution acted as a natural filter. The flower was shot in BW mode and I added more contrast during the editing.Hope this helps.

  2. Bear permalink
    April 9, 2009 1:52 pm

    It all sounds so gritty!

  3. April 10, 2009 12:36 pm

    I hadn’t realized the sand to be such a problem there. That would be pretty difficult for contact lens wearers too, I imagine.

  4. April 10, 2009 6:40 pm

    What beautiful pictures! Love the picture of the flower in the last picture!

    I’m all eager to try Korean food actually, so that will be one country I could look forward to visiting one day 🙂

    Cheryl

  5. April 11, 2009 3:46 am

    Bear – sounds and feels gritty. My lungs feel congested all the time 😦

    Heather – good point, I don’t wear contacts but I’m sure it must be horrible for those who do.

    Cheryl – a magnolia flower. When I took this shot a week ago they were just starting to come out. Since then the weather has practically heated up and now these flowers have wilted and fallen off the trees. Spring is very short lived here. Korea food is good and spicy. I plan on getting some pictures of the local food soon.

  6. December 28, 2009 11:45 am

    Thanks for sharing such a great information.
    Truly appreciate it 🙂
    Happy New Year 2010 to you and do keep in touch!

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