The Korea Herald


How to find earthquake shelters near you

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : June 12, 2024 - 14:40

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Students at a high school in Buan-gun, North Jeolla Province, evacuate the building after a 4.8 magnitude earthquake in the area on Wednesday. (Yonhap) Students at a high school in Buan-gun, North Jeolla Province, evacuate the building after a 4.8 magnitude earthquake in the area on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

An early morning 4.8 magnitude earthquake jolted South Korea on Wednesday, leading to minimal damage and no casualties, but causing a shock in a country where most residents are not accustomed to such tremors.

In light of the recent quake, how to find the nearest earthquake shelter instantly became a topic of interest. Information about earthquake shelters near one's residence can be accessed via various websites and applications.

To access information about the earthquake shelters, one can visit the homepage of the National Disaster and Safety Portal, run by the Ministry of Interior and Safety, or simply type "earthquake evacuation shelter" in Korean in Google to access the search service at the same website. For example, someone living in Seoul's Yongsan-gu can see that there are 59 earthquake shelters in the area, along with related information including their addresses and phone numbers with a map of the area.

The site allows users to find over 7,000 shelters across the country, 1,536 of which can double as relief centers that provide temporary dwelling facilities.

One must search the information on the Korean version of the website for this specific information, as the English version only shows civil defense shelters used for other emergencies such as an airstrike. It also allows user to find the location of the nearest emergency medical facilities, fire stations and police stations.

Information on earthquake shelters can also be found via the Safety Stepping Stone app, only in Korean, operated by the government and available for Android and iPhone devices. The app accesses the location of the user and show the nearest shelters. The Emergency Ready App, the application’s English counterpart, once again only shows civil defense shelters.

Safety Stepping Stone mobile application (Screen capture) Safety Stepping Stone mobile application (Screen capture)

Privately run services such as T Map, Naver Map and Kakao Map also provide information related to emergency shelters. As in the case of public services, using Korean is essential to access detailed information.

For example, on Naver Map, typing in "shelter" or "earthquake shelter" in the English setting did not yield desired results, showing businesses with the word shelter in them. But typing in the term for "earthquake shelter" in Korean in the English version led to the best result for an English speaker, as the results were in English.

However, typing in just "shelter" in English in the Korean setting showed mostly other types of shelters around the area, while typing it in Korean yielded corresponding results displayed in Korean.

Overall, the English services are useful when searching for underground shelters, emergency medical centers, fire and police stations in the area. But using Korean-language services is a better option when looking specifically for earthquake shelters.