Tuesday, April 11, 2006
"Are you sure you want to go to Korea? Don't you know how bad the air is?"
Well, no, there is no possible way you can really know how bad the air can be until you live through "Hwang-Sa" (literally translated, it means yellow dust, which can, strangely enough, also be translated to mean "yellow death"). Fortunately, the air is usually not all that bad, as you can clearly see in the second picture. But every spring, the winds blow through the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, transporting a cloud of dust through China, (where, we have been told, it picks up a barrage of heavy metals and other pollutants, cadmium being among the most popular), finally settling on the Korean peninsula where it sticks to the backs of our throats, all the while giving us this wonderful skyline.
There were men on the street yesterday handing out free face masks to those passing by. The yellow dust is returning again tonight....
But soon, the air will clear up again. I'm told that Saturday was the worst day for yellow dust in four years. There was apparently 1mg of airborne particles for every cubic centimeter. What the hell does that mean, you ask? (Apparently, it's pretty bad).