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[Survive & Thrive] Hottest and coolest regions in Korea

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : Aug. 8, 2023 - 16:24

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Korea is known for its harsh summers, with high humidity and daily temperatures often exceeding 30 degrees Celsius.

This year's summer, however, may be among the hottest so far, with preliminary data for July showing record high temperatures.

Children play in the Yeouido Hangang Park in Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul. (Yonhap) Children play in the Yeouido Hangang Park in Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul. (Yonhap)

As locals scatter in search of the best spots to survive the summer heat, here are some of the country's hottest and coolest regions.

Daegu, also known as ‘Dae-frica’

The city of Daegu, located in between North and South Gyeongsang Province, is notorious for having the hottest summers in South Korea. So much so that it has been dubbed "Dae-frica," a portmanteau of "Daegu" and "Africa."

According to the Korea Meteorological Administration, the city has so far recorded 20 days with mid-day temperatures of 33 C or higher this year.

While Anseong, Gyeonggi Province, recorded the highest temperature this year of 39.5 C on Sunday, Daegu has seen more heatwaves than any other region over the past few years. In 2022, Daegu recorded 45 days of heatwaves, compared to 35 days in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province and Miryang, South Gyeongsang Province.

Other cities with high temperatures include Seoul, which also recorded 20 days with temperatures of 33 C and above so far this year, along with Daejeon at 17 days and Gwangju and Chuncheon, each at 15 days.

The eastern city of Gangneung, Gangwon Province, which is known to most locals as a cooler region, is also having an unusually hot summer this year, with 15 days of high temperatures.

In general, the mountainous Gangwon Province has seen a significant rise in summer temperatures in recent years. From 2001 to 2020, the region saw an average 6.2 days of high temperatures, a figure which jumped to 10.1 between 2011 and 2020.

To get a general idea of the hotter and cooler areas during summer in South Korea, refer to the land surface temperature map of South Korea created by the state-run National Institute of Environmental Research, which shows the highest temperatures recorded across the country between 2016 and 2020.

The map shows that the Daegu-Gumi area in North Gyeongsang Province, the area around Gwangju in the southwest, and the greater Seoul area are the hottest regions in South Korea.

The eastern regions have comparatively low temperatures, with the exception of Gangneung.