Photo: Yeongwol-gun County officials bow to the mountain spirit, praying for rain. Credit: the Blue Roof.
Due to climate change, South Korea has been experiencing an unusually warm late spring with little rain, in a season that is critical for growing vegetables and fruit. (See previous coverage, “Climate Change Comes to Korea’s Seafood.”)
The average rainfall in May for Chungcheongnam-do Province 충청남도 was less than 6% of an ordinary year; other areas of the country are seeing around half of the usual rainfall. Desperate for relief, Yeongwol-gun County of Gangwon-do Province 강원도 영월군 held a traditional rain ritual 기우제, bowing to the mountain spirit to grant precipitation.
Meanwhile, a wildfire raged from May 31 to June 3 near Miryang, Gyeongsangbuk-do Province 경상북도 밀양, burning 763 hectares, or the equivalent of approximately a thousand soccer fields. This is the first time a wildfire has broken out in June since the South Korean government began recording instances of wildfire in 1986; ordinarily, the fire season in Korea is late winter to early spring, when the air is dry.