Yesterday saw a record snowfall in Seoul, with accumulation of somewhere between 25.4 cm and 27.8 cm, depending on which reports you read. Whether it’s a little over 25 centimeters or just shy of 28 centimeters, it is a record, and by that I mean it is the most snow that has ever fallen in Seoul since 1937, when they first started keeping records on snowfall.
Growing up in upstate New York, I often saw snowfalls of well over 11 inches (which is approximately how much 27.8 centimeters is in Imperial units), but Seoul doesn’t generally see much snow at all—an accumulation of a few centimeters is a lot, so you can imagine what over twenty centimeters did. The city was pretty much paralyzed. It was a good day to stay home, if possible, and stay home we did.
This is what the HUFS campus looked like around midday. I took this photo from the seventh floor of our building, from the hallway outside our apartment. This was as close as I planned to get to the white stuff, but in the afternoon, when it looked like the snow had finally let up, Hyunjin insisted that we go outside to see this historic snowfall. I wasn’t as enthusiastic, but I grabbed my camera and we left our apartment.
Once down at ground level, we saw that a small army of ajumma and ajeossi (or, in plain English, just “men and women,” I suppose) were out trying to clear away the snow that had been compacted by passing cars and people. Notice how a lot of them are using brooms—until I came to Korea, I had never seen anyone clear away snow with a broom, but they do it here all the time. Coming from a place where snowfalls of 30+ cm are not uncommon, it never would have occurred to me to try to sweep away snow, but for a light snow I suppose it works just as well, if not better. Here they are using shovels to break up and heave aside the bigger chunks of snow, and brooms to sweep away the remaining debris.
After making our way through the line of snow shovelers and sweepers, we walked through the arch you can see in the left background above into a small wooded area. I set the camera down on a bench and we did our best impressions of Inuits. I like this photo because the low angle makes it look like there is a lot more snow than there really is.
Snowman-building was a popular pasttime yesterday, and as we walked around we saw a number of snowmen in various stages of completion. This one was the only one that was finished, though. If you look closely at the first photo above, you can see this snowman in its early stages—or at least you can see the students building it.
While building snowmen and posing for photos in the snow is fun, this is the reality of yesterday’s snowfall for anyone unfortunate enough to have been on the road. After getting our required dose of reality, we trudged back to our apartment, where we drank hot chocolate and enjoyed the record snowfall from a safe—and warm—distance.