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Preparing for a Typhoon in Korea

Every year at the end of the summer, there is an uncomfortable time where typhoons are common. Usually this period is around late August to early September and sometimes we even get a few in October! That being said, it is a good idea to prepare for this time and make sure that you are safe from the typhoon.

You are going to find a lot of varying opinions if you are solely sourcing your information from internet memes found on expat facebook groups. They typically range from “we’re doomed! How can we survive!!???” to the macho pablum of “Been here 1.5 years… I’ve seen it all. They’re nothing. I just go to the ocean and flex my muscles at them” and so on. The truth of the matter is that typhoons are unpredictable and a bit preparation can save you a lot of headaches in the long run. For an idea of the chaos that these weather systems cause here are some shots of a recent typhoon to hit the Ulsan and Busan area.

Stay Informed

These days there is a ton of information on the internet about weather predictions and forecasts. This contrasts to when I first came here and was caught off guard by Typhoon Maemi. This was one of the most devastating typhoons to hit Korea and as foreigners we had zero knowledge of it until it hit. So it is up to you to stay informed and keep up to date on the movements of the typhoon. Here are a few links and just click on the titles to be taken to the respective sites.

Windy – This will give you a visual on the progress of the typhoon, size and severity. There is also an app which is great and has a lot of information. This site will also give you updates on specific typhoons in the area.

Korea Meteorological Administration – This is a great resource in English as it is information sent directly from the government on the incoming typhoon and the predicted path. It may be a bit technical but it is very accurate.

Weather Underground – This is a great site for everything weather related. It also has a great section for current typhoons like this one from Typhoon Haishen. There is a lot of information here for all types of weather and is one that you want to bookmark.

Also, keep your phone charged and on all the time. The government will send out warnings and precautions that are geotagged to your location. If you are not receiving them, please head to the alert settings in your phone and make sure that they are turned on.

Emergency Ready App – (apple link / android link )This is a great app that translates all of the emergency warnings from the Korean government and sends them to you shortly after the Korean ones pop up. There is also emergency contact info and other useful information.

Be Prepared

With all this information at hand, you must take some precautions when a typhoon hits. These weather systems are not to be trifled with. Brushing the warnings off and acting like they are nothing will only put yourself in danger or possibly damage your apartment. Also note that your school or landlord is not responsible for paying for your stupidity.

The first thing you need to do is lock and secure your windows. Check to see if there are any areas that might flood. Specifically, the area under your verada windows. Sometimes, there are vents there that will flood and let water flow in.

To prevent the windows from rattling too much, wedge some cardboard or something into the cracks for a quick fix. If you have more time, I would head to Daiso and pick up some weather strips for your windows. In Korea these are called 문풍지 or munpoong-ji. These will stick around the edges of your windows to ensure a tight seal. You can then also pick up supplies for cheap that you may need.

Batteries and power banks should also be prepared. It is not uncommon for parts of the city to lose power during the typhoon. So stock up whatever batteries that you may need beforehand. Also charge your phone and any devices. Keeping a few power banks around is also a smart idea. Again, Daiso is your friend here. They have cheap batteries and whatnot to help power your devices.

Some locals suggest to tape an “X” across your windows in case they break. In my experience and from others that I have talked to, this is actually kind of dangerous. A member of the community reached out and said that the tape can cause the window to break into large shards and that has the potential to seriously injure someone.

Stay Put

When the typhoon finally hits, you want to stay put and hunker down. That is all that you really can do. With the information above and the preparations that you made, your best plan of action is to stay in your apartment until the typhoon passes.

Be aware of your windows and the rain. If you are worried that your windows might break, then find an area to stay that is away way from them and stay there. Typhoons can last a few hours so be prepared for that. If your power goes out, it may take as long as 12 hours to get restored, so make sure that you are prepared.


The final part is that you should keep in contact with your friends and family. Do not panic and remain calm. Wait until the typhoon has passed before venturing outside.

When the typhoon has passed, please use caution when heading out. Traffic lights may be damaged in some areas, making traffic difficult. There may be glass and debris scattered across the streets and sidewalks. Be careful of damaged signs and buildings that may fall even after the winds have died down.

I hope that this is helpful to you and if you have any more tips please post them on our facebook group.

Jason Teale is a freelance photographer and writer based in South Korea specializing in travel, Cinemagraphs, food, and documentary photography. Available for assignments in Ulsan, Busan, Seoul, and nationwide.

 

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