Seoul warns of blackouts, calls for long johns

The government urged South Koreans Wednesday to dig out their thermal underwear and turn down the heating, warning that some areas may otherwise face electricity blackouts amid unusually cold weather.
Knowledge Economy Minister Choi Kyung-Hwan said electricity demand has hit a new record three times this winter so far.

“Amid the sudden surge of electricity demand… we may experience blackouts in some areas if the situation worsens,” he said in a speech, adding the government was girding for a possible emergency.

“There is a limit in expanding our electricity supply, and we need your active help,” Choi said.

The ministry urged people to wear thermal underwear instead of turning on heaters in offices, cut heating during the peak hours of 10 am to noon and 4 to 6 pm and use stairs instead of lifts.

The temperature in Seoul on December 24 plunged to minus 15.1 degrees Celsius (4.8 degrees Fahrenheit), the lowest December figure in the capital since 1980.

Warmer southern provinces that normally see little snow have been hit by sudden snowstorms.

Public transport in the southeastern city of Pohang last week was paralysed by the biggest snowstorm there in more than six decades.