Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Horror that is Yellow

Korea has been wonderful. We have experienced beautiful people, amazing food, stunning places, and a society that is crime free and efficient. Sounds like a fantastic place, doesn't it? Well, let me tell you, it is.

So far (and were down to our last month here) we have had no major complaints. Sure there has been the odd Korean man or woman, who seems to have been suffering from xenophobia, and has treated us differently, but these could also have simply been horrible individuals, and let's be quite honest here, they exist everywhere.

I now have a major complaint. And the horrible thing is that it's not actually a complaint that I can share with anyone for the hope of it being remedied. It's a complaint that bothers me every morning, and no matter how much I complain and throw my toys, this complaint will arise every year for the forseable future. The complaint: Yellow Dust.

Yellow Dust "is a seasonal meteorological phenomenon which affects much of East Asia sporadically during the springtime months". It happens when high speed surface winds pick up very fine sand and dust particles in the deserts of Mongolia, Kazakhstan and northern China. It has gotten far worse in the last few years, due to an increase in pollutants contained in the dust.

OK. Fine, so the air is dusty, what does that mean. Let me first point out, that I am by no means a sickly person, and I don't suffer from any sort of sinus issues. I live in the highveld of South Africa, which is a very dry area, and I never have any issues with spring pollen. Here however, things are different. Every morning this week I have woken up with stuffed nasal cavities to the point of headaches. I have woken up with said headaches on occasion, and it doesn't get much better throughout the day, other than the fact that I have been blowing my nose every few minutes.

It really has been that bad. And it's not just me, others I have spoken to suffer from the same issues. National news agencies issue yellow dust warnings, in which they advise people to wear face masks and refrain from outdoor activity. It's crazy. Apparently Korea will only receive about 5 'yellow dust days' this season, but exactly when those are I'm not sure. I'm hoping they pass soon. I want my sense of smell and my ability to breathe back!

This is what Seoul can look like. This is an image swiped from the internet for illustration purposes. Our city looks nothing like this. To be complately honest, one cannot even see the dust here in Wonju, unless you're staring into the distance and then you can see a definite haze, but not a complete 'yellow out' like in this image.

I hope this rant will be taken as a serious public service announcement, and not just as the blustering of a sickly westerner, which I'm not, I'll have you know!
Post by Oliver


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