S. Koreans begin mass exodus for Chuseok

September 5, 2014
 Along with Lunar New Year, Chuseok marks South Korea's longest holiday in which many South Koreans head to their hometowns for ancestral rituals and to spend time with their families. (Yonhap)

Along with Lunar New Year, Chuseok marks South Korea’s longest holiday in which many South Koreans head to their hometowns for ancestral rituals and to spend time with their families. (Yonhap)

The annual exodus begins on Sept. 5, 2014 as many South Korans head home to spend five-day Chuseok holidays. (Yonhap)

The annual exodus begins on Sept. 5, 2014 as many South Korans head home to spend five-day Chuseok holidays. (Yonhap)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — An annual mass human migration started in South Korea on Friday as millions of people headed for their hometowns for one of the country’s major traditional holidays.

Chuseok, the equivalent of Thanksgiving in the United States, falls on Monday this year by the lunar calendar, with the official holiday running through Wednesday. Along with Lunar New Year, Chuseok marks South Korea’s longest holiday in which many South Koreans head to their hometowns for ancestral rituals and to spend time with their families.

Authorities predicted that about 39.5 million South Koreans, nearly four-fifths of the total population, may join the annual exodus during this year’s five-day holiday, 13.3 percent more than last year.

Homecomers streamed into the main train station in central Seoul, which links the capital to regional cities and towns across the country, as well as express bus terminals and airports.

“I took a day off today in order to avoid the major traffic congestion expected on Saturday or Sunday,” Kim Yeon-soo, a father of a five-year old child said as he was waiting for a train. “I will spend the early part of the holidays at my hometown and come back to Seoul to enjoy the rest of it with my family members here.”

Tickets for buses running to major regions were already sold out as of Friday morning, with bus seats coming back to Seoul being reserved quickly, according to officials at express bus operators.

Traffic on major expressways remained relatively light as of early Friday, with a drive from Seoul to Busan, the nation’s second largest city about 453 kilometers southeast of the capital, taking about four hours and 20 minutes.

Transportation authorities said most homecomers may hit the road on Saturday, while Monday will see heavy traffic congestion with people coming back from their hometowns.

Officials said that about 442,000 people may go overseas during the Chuseok season through the Incheon International Airport to spend the holidays.

 

 

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