They said it was coming for us. Alerts on my smartphone warned me to exercise caution. The monster Soulik was on the prowl, and it was following a path similar to the one followed by Kompasu nearly eight years ago, threatening to wreak havoc on the peninsula. Soulik is, of course, the nineteenth typhoon of the year (and not a kaiju loose from Japan). The news reports were warning us that it was going to pass close to Seoul, bringing heavy rainfall and winds of around 26 m/s (nearly 100 kph), and so we acted accordingly. HJ canceled her morning class. Kevin considered pushing back his return flight to Korea (but ultimately decided not to). Thousands of schools around the country decided to close for the day. And me? I mainly wondered how I was going to get into the office in the morning without getting completely soaked, as the majority of the rain was forecast to fall right about the time I would normally make my fifteen-minute walk up and over the hill to my office.
HJ reported that it did, in fact, rain during the night last night, although I heard none of it (but I’ve slept through thunderstorms that would, to hear HJ tell it, rival Ragnarök). All I know is that when I woke up this morning, the trees were still and it barely looked to be raining at all. We turned on the news to discover that Soulik had taken a sharper turn across the peninsula, which meant that it would pass much farther south of Seoul than originally predicted. We were still supposed to feel the effects of it, but it wouldn’t be nearly as bad as, say, Kompasu had been.
When I left my apartment at eight o’clock, it was barely sprinkling, although by the time I got to my office it had started raining a little more steadily. It never developed into anything more than that throughout the day, remaining steady but light, and when I left my office shortly before seven o’clock this evening, the rain had stopped and patches of blue could be seen behind the breaking clouds in the north. And that, apparently, was that. We did get a decent bit of rain, I suppose, but it never got windy at all. Soulik sidestepped us.
This is not to say that the entire peninsula emerged unscathed. It’s easy to think of Seoul as being the entirety of Korea, especially when a quarter of the population lives in the Seoul metropolitan area (and you happen to be part of that), but there are actually other people in Korea! Jeju Island, off the south coast, got hit particularly hard; parts of the island got over a meter of rain (1112 mm, to be precise), and the unofficial highest wind speeds were 62 m/s—a mind-boggling 223 kph. I can’t even imagine what that would be like. And, unfortunately, the storm was not without its victims: Two people were swept into the ocean on Jeju. One of them managed to make it back to shore, but the other, a young girl in her twenties, did not. Last I heard, she was being reported as missing, but if she hasn’t been found yet, I fear she is no longer with us. I feel terrible for her family, but when I heard the news I couldn’t help thinking, “Why on earth would you go down to the ocean during a typhoon?” This always happens, though. If it’s not someone getting swept into the ocean, it’s a group of people who decide that a major storm is the perfect time to go hiking in the mountains. If they’re lucky, they end up on the news in footage showing them being rescued by helicopter.
At any rate, we were thankfully spared here in Seoul, and it was actually a relatively pleasant day in terms of temperature; I never saw the mercury climb above 24 degrees. The highs are supposed to be back in the low 30s next week, but with September soon to be upon us, I think it is safe to say that this brutal summer is finally at an end. I suppose a typhoon, even one that decided to skip Seoul, is as good a punctuation mark as any.