Jeju No Longer Safe From Quake?
By Kim Rahn
A 4.2-magnitude earthquake occurred near Jeju Island Saturday evening, causing startled people to evacuate their homes.
It was one of the strongest quakes Jeju has experienced in 30 years. With the number of earthquakes in the area growing recently, this latest incident is causing people to worry about their safety.
At 9:59 p.m. Saturday, the 4.2-magnitude quake occurred out at sea, 78 kilometers west of Jeju Island, according to the Jeju Regional Meteorological Administration. Residents in Jeju and even Wando Island in South Jeolla Province reportedly felt the tremor, but the weather agency said no damage from the quake has been reported.
Since 1978, Jeju has had 30 temblors, most of which were small. There have been two with a magnitude of over 4 so far ― a 4.5-magnitude quake in March 1993 and the one on Saturday. So far this year, Jeju has had two earthquakes, which was also the strongest among the 17 earthquakes that have occurred in Korea this year.
``Although the magnitude of the quake was smaller than the one in 1993, people may have felt the tremor more, as its epicenter was closer to Jeju,'' an official of the administration said.
The quake caused high-rise apartments in some regions to shake for about five seconds, and some people walking on streets to stagger.
The weather agency had a rush of phone calls from citizens inquiring about the quake. Some people even evacuated their homes out of fear of a possible disaster, similar to the one neighboring China recently suffered.
``There was neither an aftershock, nor damage from tidal waves. We are examining the quake,'' the official said.
The number of quakes in Korea is growing ― in Jeju alone, there was only one between 1978 and 1987, but the number rose to five between 1988 and 1997, and 22 between 1998 and 2007.
A report by the Geological Society of Korea in 2005 said that the Korean Peninsula had frequent quakes every 400 to 500-year intervals and that the country was currently in one of those periods.