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Climate change in South Korea - statistics & facts

Climate change is a global phenomenon, and South Korea has not been excluded from its effects. Certainly, the country's growth into an economic and industrial powerhouse contributed towards climate change. However, the growth of civil society and wider access to information due to the spread of the internet, personal computers, and smartphones, has resulted in greater interest and concern in climate change and environmental issues among the Korean public.

How do South Koreans perceive climate change?

According to a survey, the majority of Koreans agreed that climate change was caused by human activities, and very few thought it was a natural process. By far the most concerning environmental issue was  air pollution, according to many respondents. Additionally, a large portion of the respondents also perceived waste disposal and global warming as important issues that needed to be dealt with. In order to do their part, a significant amount of South Koreans took to reusing disposable items, and purchasing products made from recycled materials as their individual ways to contribute towards using less plastic and non-recyclable materials.

What is the environment like in South Korea?

Official statistics show that the amount of PM10 in the air in South Korea was  around 40 micrograms per cubic meter, which is in excess of the annual mean of 20 micrograms for PM10 as specified by the World Health Organization (WHO).  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s standard for PM2.5 particles was 12 micrograms throughout the year; major cities in South Korea recorded means in the mid-twenties. As of 2018, the Korean standards were annual means of 50 micrograms for PM10 and 15 micrograms for PM2.5. Particulate matter from domestic sources are decreasing thanks to technological advances being applied to factories and waste disposal facilities. There were 59 days in 2018 when the PM10 and PM2.5 levels were classified as “bad”, even according to the already more lenient South Korean standards.

How do South Koreans deal with an unhealthy environment?

Most South Koreans try to cope with the problematic levels of particulate matter by frequently washing their hands, staying inside and wearing face masks, all methods that have no doubt been practiced more frequently in recent times. Moreover,sales of air purifiers jumped by 400 percent from 2016 to 2019, while  sales of drying machines skyrocketed by 2,000 percent during the same period. Traditionally, South Koreans would hang their laundry on clothes lines or clothes racks, but with excessive particulate matter in the skies, they are turning towards drying machines to safely dry their laundry.

Interesting statistics

In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 23 most important statistics relating to "Climate change in South Korea".

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