Hands down, Spring is the most enjoyable season in Korea. The sun is (usually) out, the temperature is just right, hot but not too hot and life awakens. This is not limited to plants and trees, it also applies to the people. After a winter of hibernating, the streets are busy again, people start sitting outside late into the night and even my female, middle school students risk stepping out onto the playground at lunch time. My days become filled with longing looks out of the window, just wishing I could be outside enjoying the season while it lasts, which sadly isn’t nearly long enough.
My excitement is however, not shared with my colleagues who are somewhat divided on whether to love or hate the changing weather. It isn’t the sun or flowers that turns them off, it is the ‘yellow dust.’ Now, while yellow dust, which moonlights as Asian dust, is a legitimate occurence I find that there is somewhat of an overreaction from some. This morning for example, I stopped at a local mart on my way to work, only to be shouted at to come inside quickly and shut the door. The shopkeeper then proceeded to come out from behind her counter forcibly put a mask over my mouth, her English was limited but she was able to tell me, ‘China air make you die.’ On my way out she gave me another word of advice, this time in Korea, ‘today, you must eat pork.’
Dust really is blown across the Korean pennisula every year from the desert and dry areas of Mongolia and China and it truly can be harmful to respiratory systems. I understand that. However, it was definitely not a dusty day, further confirmed by weather reports that warn that while dust may be blown this way unexpectedly, today is looking relatively, dust-free. Did the shopkeeper know something the weatherman didn’t, perhaps, a sixth sense of sorts? She was adament after all. I’ll keep my mask on standby just in case. In the meantime, I have every intention to keep on enjoying the weather and stay outside, dust or no dust.
Coincidentally, I will be eating pork tonight (which is apparently a preventative of respiratory illness caused by yellow dust) so hopefully, I’ll be safe. Check out the article below, for The Korean Times take on the dust influx and pork remedy.