By Hong Dam-young, Park Si-soo
The entire country is simmering in an unusual heat wave that shot the mercury in Seoul, Gyeonggi Province and many other regions over 36 degrees Celsius on Thursday afternoon. The scorching weather is expected to continue through the weekend.
The state weather agency issued a nationwide heat wave alarm Thursday afternoon, the third consecutive warning since Tuesday.
Several people died or suffered heat-related diseases this week. A woman in her 90s collapsed and died on Tuesday after working at her grain field in Gapyong, Gyeonggi Province, according to police.
A homeless Chinese man was found unconscious on a bench in a public park in Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province, Monday evening. He was taken to a hospital but declared dead. Police said he had a body temperature of 41 degrees Celsius when found and they believe overexposure to the sun was the major cause of the death.
There have been other incidents related to the heat.
On July 29, a boy, 4, was found unconscious on a school bus in Gwangju after he was mistakenly left there. His teacher had forgotten to check and left him in the hot vehicle for eight hours. The boy is still unconscious.
In North Gyeongsang Province, 28 cases of heat stroke were reported between May 18 and July 31, up 12 percent on last year.
Weather experts said the protracted heat wave could be blamed on the development of the North Pacific anticyclone system. It is carrying hot and humid air that is keeping temperatures high day and night. Adding to this is a flow of hot air from northern China.
"Summer heat will continue through August to mid-September," an official at the Korea Meteorological Administration said. "It will start to cool down at the end of September, as the migratory anticyclone hits Korea and finally brings fine autumn days."