Heavy overnight rain caused a landslide in Seocho-gu, southern Seoul on Tuesday morning. (Yonhap)
South Korean broadcasting companies came under fire for their breaking news coverage of the worst rainfall in 115 years in Seoul and its surrounding areas.
The record overnight rainfall resulted in hundreds of flood victims, and jeopardized citizens in the capital area on their after-work commute. Roads and sidewalks in the capital area were flooded, causing some people to leave their cars on the road. A number of cars and buses were stuck for hours on expressways from Seoul to Gyeonggi Province due to traffic controls. Some regions of Seoul experienced blackouts.
Broadcasting companies aired breaking news programs at night and streamed news live on their YouTube channels. The breaking news broadcasts by the country’s major news companies on the rainfall recorded a viewing rate of 7.8 percent, 2.9 percent and 4.7 percent for KBS1, MBC and SKS, respectively -- higher than any other TV program in the timeslot. YouTube channels that streamed breaking news about the rainfall attracted thousands of viewers who wanted information about the flooding and how it affected their commute routes.
“There was not enough information during the breaking news coverage, like what I should do in an urgent situation like a power blackout at home,” a 34-year-old resident who raises two children in Bundang, Gyeonggi Province told The Korea Herald.
Complaints from citizens over the coverage content were shared on social media. One tweet on Twitter read: “The breaking news coverage repeatedly shows footage of the flood across the city, gathered by citizens. I wish I could see more tangible information such as a safety manual or map of specific flooded regions. What is the point of a disaster broadcast?” The tweet was shared by more than 9,100 people as of Tuesday afternoon.
“I fell asleep late last night after watching the breaking news coverage rotating on major news companies, but it was not helpful, as they repeatedly played similar flooding footage,” another tweet said.
The rainfall will continue until Wednesday, according to the Meteorological Administration. The rainstorm poured as much as 141 millimeters of water per an hour in parts of Seoul on Monday night.
By Park Yuna (firstname.lastname@example.org