By Yun Suh-young
Fifty-six earthquakes hit the Korean Peninsula this year, marking the second-largest number since 1978 when it began seismic observation, the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) said Thursday.
The largest number of earthquakes was recorded in 2009 when 60 occurred, according to the KMA.
This year's number is higher than the annual average of 43.6 recorded since 1999 until last year. The observation system was digitized in 1999.
The number of earthquakes has been on the rise. There were 42 earthquakes in Korea in 2010 and 52 in 2011.
"The occurrence of earthquakes is on the increase globally. It looks like they are part of a process of adjusting the earth's energy through continuous friction since a mega earthquake hit eastern Japan last year," said a KMA official.
There were nine quakes measuring over magnitude 3 on the Richter scale and four that could be felt by people.
By region, Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province had the highest number with 11 followed by North Jeolla Province with four and Busan, Ulsan, and South Gyeongsang Provinces with two each.
In Seoul, Incheon, and Gyeonggi Province, no earthquakes were reported.
North Korea had seven earthquakes. The rest of the earthquakes occurred off Korea's coast with 12 in the West Sea, nine in the East Sea and seven in the South Sea.
The strongest earthquake was detected in Muju, North Jeolla Province, on May 11. An earthquake of magnitude 3.9 hit the city at around noon. It was reported that a level four seismic intensity had occurred, strong enough to rattle windows in Muju, Namwon and other nearby cities.