Mercury hits record 40.3 C in South Korea as country battles heat wave

Staff Report

Japan isn’t the only Asian nation battling soaring temperatures — the mercury in neighboring South Korea also hit a record high 40.3 degrees Celsius on Wednesday as it grapples with a heat wave.

The temperature was marked at an observatory in Hongcheon, a town in the northeastern province of Gangwon, at 2:20 p.m., the highest level since 1907, when the country began to compile the data, local media reports quoted the Korea Meteorological Administration as saying.

It was just the second time for the country to see recorded temperatures rise above the 40 C threshold, following a reading of 40 in the southeastern city of Daegu on Aug. 1, 1942, according to the South’s Yonhap news agency.

At around the same time Wednesday, Seoul also recorded its highest-ever temperature, 38.8, besting a previous high of 38.4 set on July 24, 1994, Yonhap said.

The country has been baking under a nationwide heat wave for weeks following the rainy season, with the lack of rainfall coupled with high atmospheric pressure from Tibet attributing to the heat wave, Yonhap said.

Japan in the meantime logged its highest-ever temperature — a record 41.1 C — in Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture on July 23, while the mercury in Tokyo also rose to a record high the same day, charting a sizzling 40.8 degrees in Ome, according to the Meteorological Agency.

Both records came amid a deadly heat wave that has gripped the country.

Tuesday, released government data showing that more than 57,000 people were taken to the hospital over the last three months due to the nationwide heat wave, with the figure likely to reach a record high for the year.

A total of 57,534 cases of heat exhaustion and heatstroke were reported between April 30 and July 29, including 125 who died from heat-related causes, according to data from the Fire and Disaster Management Agency.