Category: Health

Suicide in Korea – a National Problem

By , January 11, 2013 10:17 am


After baseball player Cho Sung Min committed suicide earlier this month, a few professionals are beginning to raise some flags about the national problem. President of Seoul National Hospital, Ha Kyoo Seob, jumped in front of cameras at a press conference said the media should tone down their sensationalism after a famous suicide. Korean media, he says, has a tendency to lay out the detailed methods of how a person conducts their own suicide thereby influencing others, particularly those who are teens or in their early 20s.

The director of the Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, Professor Paul Yip, also made news this week on the subject. He said that the media should play a part of helping this problem in that they fail to discuss the issues surrounding the mental illness.

“I think there’s a lot of people who commit suicide, they do suffer mental illness, they do suffer from depression, [but] this information is not usually reported in the media,” he said.

“They always say that it’s because of a failure of an exam, or illness.

“And just to simplify the cause of suicide is it not a very useful way to promote this correct awareness of the mental wellness.”

Suicide rates rise dramatically after a famous person kills himself.  When Cho Sung Min’s actress wife killed herself a few years back the suicide rates rose an astonishing 70%. Koreans dramas that portray suicides often romanticize about it. Ha says he’d like to see more TV shows that portray someone actually getting mental health help and dealing with the problem rather than killing themselves.

Late last year, UlsanOnline reported on how Korea currently deals with the notion of suicide – happy little statues on Mapo bridge from which people jump. If you’re about to jump, the happy little statues will make you feel better and you’ll go back to your nightmare of 20 hour days of high school, your 100 hour work week of work, the endless competition to be the best or other depressing issues.

Korean society plays down most of mental illness and stress that one should just be strong and pick oneself up and carry on. Those that can’t just aren’t strong enough.

Korea has the highest suicide rate in the developed world with 32 per 100,000 taking their own life.

It’s way past time to start acting like a developed nation and understand, as a society,  what mental health is and isn’t and deal with this problem. It’s an illness, not a weakness.

Adventures in Korean Medical Malpractice

By , December 21, 2012 2:36 pm


What follows is  one woman’s story of medical malpractice. Specifically, the medical procedure is Laser-Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis or what is commonly known as LASIK – the correction of nearsighted vision by laser surgery. We are not publishing this story to warn people away from LASIK, nor are we attacking the Korean medical system. Most people that have had the procedure performed have been thrilled with the results, and there are excellent doctors here who provide excellent care to their patients. The reason we’re publishing this story is to inform people of the differences in medical malpractice laws between Korea and many western countries.  This is Jen’s story, and we’ll allow her to tell it in her own words (the final paragraphs were added later, from information Jen provided after her return to the US). In order to avoid legal troubles (the slander/defamation laws here are different than home, too) we will not name the doctor, but we do have the doctor’s name and clinic on file.

Jen’s LASIK [horror] story:

On June 25, 2012 my boyfriend and I, together with 2 Korean friends (KF1 and KF2), went to an eye clinic in Jung-gu, which had been recommended to us by KF1. At that time, my boyfriend and I both had a pre-LASIK eye exam. Dr. M told my boyfriend that he is not a good candidate for LASIK, because his cornea does not hold a perfectly round shape. I was told that I was an ideal candidate for LASIK. I had slight near-sightedness (Left: -1.75, Right: -1.50) and thick, round corneas. The doctor said that with my type of eyes, I would have the best possible result from LASIK. So, I scheduled the procedure for July 14, 2012. Dr. M said that I couldn’t wear contacts before the surgery; I had to wear my glasses.

Driving home from work before the surgery, I noticed that I had some difficulty seeing with my glasses (as they are a weaker prescription than my contacts), so I asked KF1 to call Dr. M to ask some specific questions about what my eyesight would be like after LASIK. These are the questions I asked, and the answers I was given:

Q1. Will I have vision like I have with my glasses (OK, but not great; blurry vision at night and when looking afar), or will I have vision like I have with my contacts (great vision up close and far away, no problems at night)?

A1. The doctor will use a computer to measure your prescription and to measure the LASIK cuts. The computer will shape your cornea like your contacts, so you will have vision like your contacts.

Q2. I am worried about driving. Will I have any problems driving and seeing road signs after LASIK?

A2. You will be able to drive without any problem as soon as one day after your procedure.

Since these answers seemed good to me, I had the LASIK as scheduled, on Saturday, July 14. And after the surgery, I had my first follow-up appointment on Monday, July 16. I could read the eye chart well with my left eye, but I couldn’t read well with my right eye. Dr. M examined my right eye and said, “No problem. Come back in one week.”

I went back to the clinic on Monday, July 23 with KF1. At that time (10 days after my LASIK), the doctor said that the cornea in my right eye had healed with a wrinkle. He said that he needed to do another procedure to smooth out my cornea and that after it was smoothed, I would be able to see out of my right eye with no problem. That afternoon I had the cornea smoothing procedure. At my next follow-up appointment, I could see a little better out of my right eye, but I still could not read much of the eye chart. He said that my eyes would need one month to heal, so there was nothing he can do to improve my vision until after the month had passed.

On August 21, I visited the doctor with KF1 for my 1-month follow-up appointment. I still could not read much of the eye chart with my right eye. There had been no improvement over the past month. Dr. M was satisfied with his work and told me I should be satisfied too.

I explained that not only was my vision significantly worse than it was with my contacts (it is even worse than it was with my glasses), but I also have difficulty reading road signs while driving, both during the day and at night. At this point Dr. M said, “You must be lying, because according to your sight test, you can see with no problem.” Then, my Korean friend said, “I have the same sight test result as you and I can see road signs. I don’t believe that you have a problem driving.” At that point, I referred to the questions I asked before the LASIK (Q1 and Q2) and the answers the doctor had given me (A1 and A2). Both the doctor and my friend replied with, “I don’t remember that conversation.”

The doctor finally said that he was satisfied with his work and that if I had a problem, I needed to go to another eye clinic. If another eye doctor said there was a problem with his work, and I brought him a medical report saying there was a problem with my eyes, he would give me a refund. OK, so, time to get a second opinion…

In the meantime, I asked him to write a prescription for some glasses to wear while driving. His response was, “You do not need glasses. You have no problem with your eyes.”

On August 31, I went to a new eye clinic with a new Korean friend (KF3). The new doctor said that there was a problem with my right eye. He took photos of my eyes and showed me white dots on the photo of my right eye that are absent on the photo of my left eye. He said that these white dots appeared because there is still a wrinkle in my right eye. I asked him to write a medical report stating that I have a problem with my right eye so I can get a refund from Dr. M, and become a regular patient of the new doctor.

Here is where Korean culture and law come into play…

The second doctor explained that in Korea, no doctor will ever make an official statement about another doctor’s work. He said that this is for political reasons. Korean doctors will never speak poorly of other Korean doctors’ work, even if a mistake is evident. He said that all Korean doctors know about this political “courtesy,” so Dr. M told me to get a report he knew I never could get. The new doctor told KF3 and myself, in a very politically correct way, that at his clinic, when LASIK patients visit for their next-day follow-up appointment, if the cornea is wrinkled, they do a cornea smoothing procedure right away. He explained that the longer the cornea stays wrinkled, the less chance there is that it will heal smoothly. In some cases, corneas never heal smoothly, so, in his clinic, they smooth the cornea ASAP. The new doctor said he didn’t understand why Dr. M waited 10 days to smooth my cornea, as waiting so long left some wrinkles in it. But, this doctor will never put that diagnosis in writing.

The second doctor said that there was a 40% chance that my cornea would continue to smooth and heal itself in the next 2 months. He said that he would not do any procedure until after 2 more months (3 months after my original LASIK). By this time, I will be back in the USA, so he suggested I see an eye doctor there in October, to see if there is anything that can be done to improve my vision at that time.

The second doctor also gladly wrote me a prescription for driving. My left eye is 0.0 and my right eye is -0.75. That’s only a 0.75 improvement from my pre-LASIK prescription of -1.50! And yet Dr. M said I have no problem.

Following this, I booked an appointment with a top eye doctor in Seoul. He basically said the same thing as the second doctor; there was clearly a problem with my right eye, and a cornea smoothing procedure should have been performed earlier in order to fix the wrinkling. He also added that, in his opinion,  I wasn’t a great candidate for LASIK. He said because my eye sight was not poor enough he would never have performed the procedure at his office and the risks outweighed the benefits. Unfortunately, he also refused to put anything down on paper that would officially state that Dr. M had made mistakes in treating me.

Since I had no official statement that I had a problem with my eye, Dr. M refused to give any refund or admit any fault. Through friends, I contacted a lawyer in Busan, who sent a letter requesting a settlement, but the doctor ignored it. The lawyer explained that it would cost more to bring a case against Dr. M than I would receive back, even if I won the best case scenario. Generally, Korean malpractice suits are only awarded the cost of the procedure. It would be very difficult to win the best case scenario as the doctor didn’t impair my vision to the point of disability. Also, the lawyer said if I wanted to bring a case, I’d have to return to Korea in 6 months (or possibly longer) to have a “certified” Korean doctor examine my eyes, which would postpone any possible treatment in the USA.

After returning to the USA, I had a cornea re-float procedure on my right eye. It’s the same corrective procedure that Dr. M did, but the doctor here did it more effectively. At my five-day checkup, my vision had improved beyond what it ever was in the Korean clinic – it was 20/20. After the one-month check-up, I’ll know if that quality of vision will remain, but things are hopeful at last.

News Odds and Ends – 11/06/12

By , November 6, 2012 12:02 pm


While we’re all waiting on the outcome of the American election, a few news items from around Korea are worth reading.

  • Two nuclear reactors were shut down at the Yeonggwang nuclear power plant on Monday. Authorities claim that parts had been supplied using falsified quality certifications.  Shutting the reactors down will mean a loss of 5% of Korea electric capacity. That may not sound like much, but the country is already on the knife-edge of capacity and the coming winter will likely mean shortages.  Economy Minister Hong SukWoo warns of “unprecedented shortages” and says that authorities must now create a “super intense power management plan.”
  • With the Korean won fluttering about 1090 to the US dollar, investors are holding back, waiting for America’s election results and waiting to see what Seoul will due to shore up the exchange rate. Expect big changes after the election so exporting companies can reap bigger profits on higher exchange rates. Players in forex have long suspected Bank of Korea intervention to keep the won at at a locally acceptable level rather than let market forces drive the value.
  • Google CEO Eric Schmidt fawns all over Korea with love.
  • Koreans may not like American beef because of mad cow disease fears (yes, still. Ask a few Koreans) but they’re getting a small taste of that from Taiwan.  Imports of South Korean noodles have been halted due to fears that some Korean  noodles contain carcinogens.
  • And finally, MSNBC has a happy article on the joys of studying for Korea’s university entrance exams. Oh, how wondrous it must be to exist as a Korean teenager where a single test on a single day can affect the entire remainder of your sad, little life.

News Bytes – 10/19/2012

By , October 19, 2012 8:41 am


A few tidbits of news of and in Korea:

  • Samsung and Apple are still embroiled in patent lawsuits regarding the iPhone, iPad and Samsung’s devices. The latest fun news is that Apple has lost it’s appeal in the UK of the iPad vs the Galaxy 10.1 Tab.  The judge in the case rules the Galaxy Tab wasn’t “cool enough” to be considered a copy.  Even better, Apple is required to run six months worth of apology ads on it’s website claiming  Samsung did not infringe on Apple’s patents.
  • Samsung is also making headlines regarding health and safety at its semiconductor plants. Some workers want Samsung to acknowledge that workers who died of leukemia were the result of an “industrial accident.”  Admitting fault  might cause serious problems for Samsung reputation as well have repercussions for industry in general.    Not admitting fault allows the company to sweep the problems under the rug.  Dialogue and court proceedings have been ongoing for over five  years on the issue.
  • South Korean President Lee MyungBak made a surprise visit to Yeonpyeong island yesterday. Yeonpyeong was shelled by North Korean artillery in 2010. Expect North Korean rhetoric to follow.
  • South Korea and China are angry that Japan’s Liberal Democratic party president visited a controversial war memorials shrine. The shrine holds remains of convicted war criminals from WWII.

Happy Shiny People

By , October 5, 2012 10:35 am


We’re all so happy!  Everything is Gangnam Style:  money flows like water, grades are easily attained and great jobs abound. But not everyone feels that way.  An 18 year old man who was  depressed (a word Koreans still do not associate as a medical issue as much a character issue) attacked a 10 year old boy in an affluent neighborhood of Seoul.  The man was upset and told police that

“I hated the rich. I cannot be rich however hard I try because I am socially marginalized.” When he committed the crime, he carried a note saying, “There are things I can never change even if I work hard and succeed someday.”

The man wanted to kill a famous lawmaker, but decided security was too tight and switched instead to killing school children. He scoped out a school where affluent families live after reading up it on the internet and then canvassed the playground and walked the halls. (Schools don’t need security because there are no deviants in Korea to attack or kidnap kids) He eventually attacked a boy at random with a shovel breaking his elbow.

Police said the man was anxious and depressed and had tried to kill himself three times over the past year.  Of course,  mental illness doesn’t occur in Korea because Koreans have pure blood, are mentally strong  and are above those sorts of things. Therefore, the man was not properly diagnosed or treated. The tail-end of this article has a law professor (not a doctor)  blaming the problems on materialism.

The country does, however, recognize it has a problem with suicide. So they are trying to fix that problem by putting happy messages on the Mapo Bridge in Seoul where suicides have taken a leap (pardon the pun) upwards over the past several years. Authorities will post friendly, happy messages on the bridge such as

“Did you know gorillas all have blood type B?”

or something that might actually be helpful to a suicidal person such as

“Have you eaten yet?”

I’m no psychiatrist, but phrases like these simply have to work – I’m happier already just reading them. They also plan to place photographs of cheerful members of someone’s family to remind these despondent, suicidal folks that their family just isn’t as cool as the one in the picture. That can’t fail. The tail end of the Reuters article spells out one of the biggest problems with mental health in Korea – the fear of being stigmatized because of a mental illness.  Apparently, death is a more attractive option than dealing with friends and family who believe you don’t have a strong enough character to pull yourself up and out of depression.

Public Radio International has another take on this and kindly offers that while this “solution” to the suicide problem is a good step, if people really are determined to kill themselves there are plenty of bridges.

Stress levels in Seoul might improve with the divesting of a few thousand souls with the opening of the new “Happy City”, Sejong.  The new city was built over the past five years to offload the overcrowded city of Seoul by placing civil servants in a city of their own. Not everyone is happy about being in happy city. Some residents say that

“There is nothing in Sejong at the moment, especially in the area where I am about to live,” … “I will have no friends, no acquaintances, and nothing to do. I’m going to feel lonely.”

Better add some more happy messages to the bridges in Sejong as well.

Humidity and Mould: How to Survive the Korean Rainy Season

By , June 25, 2012 3:57 pm


Rainy season is forecast to start this week. In the past, this prediction meant the change from a long, dry winter and spring into a hot, humid, rainy summer. Of course, in recent years, the climate patterns have changed so much that we now have rain frequently throughout the year, so the idea of calling one two-week period “rainy season” is almost laughable.

None-the-less, if you haven’t lived in a humid or rainy country before, there are some things you should take note of, so that you aren’t overcome by mould and mildew before rainy season is gone and typhoon season begins. These fungi can have serious health effects, from respiratory problems to depression and rashes, so it’s important to keep them out of the air in your living space.

1. Get a fan. Even if you have air conditioning in your apartment, you’ll want a fan to help keep the air moving. This circulation will help dampness from gathering in dark corners. For those without dryers (probably 99% of the teachers here, at the very least), turn the fan on your drying rack to help keep your clothes from turning green after washing. This is not uncommon, as the humidity will keep the clothes damp, making them a perfect mould garden.

2. Move your furniture out from the walls. It doesn’t have to be far – just a few centimeters will help get air flow back there, and help you keep an eye on the situation. Mildew and mould like places like behind the fridge or the bookcase, so again, get the air flowing.

3. Bleach is effective at killing mould and mildew, as are baking soda and vinegar (not together, unless you want a grade school science project mess all over your floors). Bleach kills everything, whereas the other two only kill certain strains. On the other hand, bleach is a potent, stinky chemical, which bleaches the colour out of things, while the other two are safe enough to eat (not together. See above). Tea tree oil is also effective, but it can be costly. When cleaning, breath through a mask – you do not want mould or mildew spores getting into your lungs.

4. If you find a major mould problem, inform your landlord (through your employer if you don’t know your landlord personally). As it’s a health hazard, it’s their responsibility to take care of the problem. You should not have to pay for any mould removal procedures.

5. Vent your bathroom after showers and your kitchen while cooking. If you have a window, open it. If you have an extractor fan, use it. Removing that extra moisture from the environment will help reduce the likelihood of nasty stuff growing throughout your apartment.

6. If you have a serious air-flow issue, or very few windows, consider getting a dehumidifier. You can find them in most of the big Marts and appliance shops. Save yourself some money and buy one that is both a dehumidifier for the humid summer and a humidifier for the dry winter, and kill unhealthy birds with one little machine.

7. To clean fabric that has gotten mouldy, wash it with bleach, borax or vinegar in hot water. Unfortunately, even with bleach, you may be left with a nasty stain after the mould is dead, which may make clothes unwearable. It also eats the fabric, so if you leave the mould too long, your shirt will disintegrate entirely. To prevent mould from growing in the first place, don’t let damp clothes or towels sit around – hang them up in an area with plenty of air flow to allow them to dry thoroughly. This goes even for sweaty gym clothes, as they’re plenty moist enough for mildew to sink its feet into. Remember that pillows and bedding are susceptible to mould growth, too, so try to keep them dry and aired out.

8. Check your closets, cupboards and under the bed. More than one favourite pair of shoes has been lost to the invasive black growth. If you have winter clothes stashed away, make sure the stashing spot is airy, not damp or clammy.

9. Finally, if you find mould or mildew growing in your apartment, and have similar symptoms to a cold or allergies that just won’t quit, get ye to a doctor. While most molds only cause annoying irritations, the symptoms tend to get worse over time. And a few types of mould are toxic and can cause serious damage to your health.

So here’s to a dry summer, with no black shadows creeping up your walls!

 

News bits – May 8, 2012

By , May 8, 2012 9:51 am


A few news worthy items from around Korea:

  • Korean authorities are in the midst of a smuggling operation in which dead human babies have been dried, pulverized and turned into capsules.  Some people believe the capsules are good for stamina, fighting cancer or rejuvenation.  And then it gets weird.  Because the capsules contain toxic ingredients, such as super bacteria, customs officials wants to stop the smuggling. The Korea customs office, however, is looking into ways to allow the legal imports of supplements minus the non-hazardous ingredients.
  • Four more savings banks have been suspended in Korea after authorities have determined they didn’t have the funds to back up their risky investments.  Solomon, Mirae, Hanju and Korea Savings Bank have been ordered to case operation for six months. The CEO of Mirae was arrested late last week attempting to flee the country with a wad of cash.
  • Comic books are alive and well in Korea. And in the movies. The Avengers, doing fantastically in the box office now, will be joined by another comic book hero, G.I. Joe. On June 14th the world premiere of the new G.I. Joe flick will be held in Seoul.    The movie is the creation of Korean American Jon M. Chu. Also starring the in movie is Korean Lee Hyung Hun, who plays Storm Shadow.
  • Having “learned lessons” from Japan’s disastrous triple-feature earthquake-tsunami-nuclear meltdown, South Korea is forging ahead with the construction of two new nuclear reactors.  This despite a recent power outage and equipment failure at the Kuri nuclear plant between Busan and Ulsan that was covered up for a month before it was revealed to authorities. Meanwhile, across the pond, Japan, having lived through nuclear war and still struggling to contain the meltdown at Fukushima, has turned off the last of its nuclear power plants and will rely on fossil fuel for its energy needs.  Japan relied on nuclear power for 30% of its needs but will replace that with more expensive (but far safer) oil and natural gas.

Pollen Alert!

By , May 7, 2012 3:38 pm


This spring, we’ve managed to avoid heavy dust storms blowing in from the Gobi Desert, yet everything is still covered with a bright, yellow dust. Turns out, this year Nature is out to get allergy sufferers. If you use the link on the UlsanOnline weather page, you can keep track of pollen levels to help manage your sypmtoms.

It seems this year that the trees have turned against us all, and are unleashing “Dangerous” to “Very Dangerous” levels of pollen upon our unsuspecting eyes, noses and throats. According to the above site, this week, tree pollen levels will vary between 162.4 grains of pollen/m3 on Thursday, which is well into the Danger Zone (got Kenny Logins stuck in your head now? You’re welcome!) and 550.1 on Tuesday, which ranks in the Very Dangerous level.

Now, before you freak out too much over their choice of words, know that “Dangerous” means even people with slight allergies will show symptoms, and “Very Dangerous” means most people will show allergy symptoms, such as itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, nasal congestion, runny nose and sore, itchy throat. Probably not deadly, but certainly irritating.

If you are prone to allergies, or if you are bothered by these symptoms, head to your local pharmacy (Yeok-guk) and ask for medicine for allergy. This is easy even if you have no Korean language skills, as the Korean for allergy is allergy (gotta love Konglish!). Friends have recommend Zyrtec (as does the pollen website).

The good news is that levels for grass and weed pollen, and mold-spores are all well within the “Faint” range, meaning that unless you are particularly sensitive, they shouldn’t be bothering you too much.

News Bytes – 3/21/2012

By , March 21, 2012 10:48 pm


Some tidbits of interest from around Korea:

  • First it was a breakthrough. American negotiators hailed recent talks with North Korea about dumping their nukes. The US will trade food for dropping the nuclear ambitions.  Then the Norks decided they wanted to test a long range rocket. Oops.  Despite rare public admonishments from China, they appear still ready to launch.  Previously, the North Koreans told the South it was merely a communications satellite they were launching. But nobody was buying that line.  Now the North Koreans are telling the South that  if they even mention nukes during next week’s summit they will consider it a declaration of war.  Honestly, the bullshit from that Kountry gets a little tiring.  If they continue the planned launch, they stand to lose billions of US dollars in aid, but the leaders likely couldn’t care less – they have lots of food. It’s the average peasant who goes hungry.  Who really understands the thinking that goes on in that land?
  • Meanwhile, in capitalist South Korea, the Seoul government is attempting to make capitalism a little kinder and gentler for the little guys, while being meaner and tougher with the big guys.  Major discount stores will be forced to close on some Sundays to enable smaller mom and pop shops to make money.  We’ll see if the Koreans can achieve  the oxymoron of control of the free market.
  • In energy news, the US exempted 11 countries from sanctions because they cut back on Iranian oil imports.  South Korea, however, is not one of them. According to Reuters, Korea has actually increased imports of Iranian oil in 2011.  The US has been trying to put a strangle hold on Iran to force them quit their nuclear weapon program. Iran says they don’t have one. Having been unable to cut Iranian imports, South Korea may be subject to financial sanctions for not playing Washington’s games.
  • And finally, in medical news South Korean scientists claim to have discovered an enzyme that will suppress the growth of cancer.  I’m not saying I don’t believe them, but Korean scientists have made claims in the past that turned out not to be true. I’ll wait and see before I invest much hope in their claims.

Surviving Yellow Dust Season

By , March 7, 2012 8:19 pm


It’s that time of year again. The temperature is nosing its way above 10 degrees, tentative buds are poking out of the tree branches, and any day now, the flowers and blossoms will begin to show themselves; Spring is coming!

Unfortunately, during March and April in Korea, the trade winds shift from the cold Siberian winds of winter, and head towards the hot, humid Southeastern winds of summer, pausing for spring break over the ever-expanding Gobi desert. And these winds have a bad habit of picking up parts of the desert, along with pesticides and pollutants from the Chinese farms and factories in its path, and blowing all this shit dust right into our lungs.

Some years are better than others, and we only have moderate level advisories. Other years, there are days you should not leave the house, and even indoors, wearing a mask is advisable, especially if you have any pre-existing respiratory conditions, such as asthma. There have been dust storms where you can actually see the dust blowing down the street in waves, or see the particles filtering through beams of light, like tiny snowflakes.

Yellow dust mainly poses health risks associated with the respiratory tract (due to the whole “you’re breathing in lungfuls of sand” thing), such as allergies, asthma, emphysema, or other respiratory disease, or more mild symptoms like congestion, eye irritation, coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.

So, how do you avoid all the nastiness? Well the short answer is to stay indoors during the Advisories and Warnings, and keep your doors and windows closed. It’s also a good idea to avoid exertion; even sweeping the floor gets you breathing faster. We’ll try to keep an eye on the news and alert people via this site and the Facebook page if there is a particularly bad day in store. You can also check the dust levels (and other Ulsan weather) here.

In the meantime, here are some tips on what to do during Yellow Dust season.

- limit the amount of time and energy you spend outdoors

- if you normally wear contacts, wear glasses to avoid eye irritation (or keep your Visine handy)

- buy a mask – this can be one of the cutie ones at Art Box, or try the pharmacy or hardware store for ones meant to filter out smaller dust particles – then actually wear it!

- limit your exposure to the dust – wear long sleeves/pants, wash exposed skin when you get inside (some of the shit stuff mixed in with the sand are pollutants and pesticides, which may cause skin irritation, not to mention the general sandblasting effect it can have)

- drink plenty of water, but don’t eat or drink anything outside

On “Health Advisory” days, when the levels are moderate (Average dust concentration will be at or above 400µm/m3 for over 2 hours )

- if you have a respiratory condition (even just a cough or cold), stay indoors as much as possible, and limit physical exertion

- if you are healthy, avoid outdoor physical activity

- Kindergarten and Elementary children should stay home, and indoors

On “Health Warning” days, when levels are high (Average dust concentration will be at or above 800µm/m3 for over 2 hours)

- everyone should stay inside as much as possible, and keep physical exertion as low as possible if you do venture outside.

- if you have a respiratory condition, you may want to wear your mask indoors if you live in a drafty apartment

- Kindergarten and Elementary classes should be cancelled

- sporting events should be rescheduled

For more information, check out the Korea Meteorological Association’s page.