“Our country has four seasons, and that is what makes Korea special.” This is one of the first facts a Korean child learns about their own country. Over the last few years though, I had grown a little suspicious. This so called “spring” lasted a few weeks at most, and this “autumn” seemed either too cold or too hot. Something wasn’t right.
I decided to do a little investigating. Surely, there were many more seasons than the four described in an almost robotic fashion. Korean adults were concealing something, something BIG, and I intended to find out what it was. After hiding in alleys, digging in trash cans, and listening in on private conversations, I found out about the secret, unspoken “Seasons of Korea.”
This is Julio reporting, live from Seoul.
Noisy Bug Season
This season comes hidden deep in the hot summer. Swarms of cicadas pop out of the ground, cling on to dear life on trees, and make normal conversations in the streets only possible if you time it right.
Yellow Dust / Pollen Season
The two look so strikingly similar that it is hard to tell them apart. Just as quickly as spring rolled in, it rolls out to give way to Yellow Dust / Pollen Season. Can’t see farther than 5 meters in front of you? Can’t seem to know why your allergies are acting up? Just wait for some rain and you will see the culprit on the floor.
Note: This season is sometimes blamed on the Chinese, since the yellow dust comes from the Gobi Desert. It appears that Koreans have uncovered China’s secret control of the weather. I’ll keep an eye on this.
Scorching Hot Season
This one is tricky as it is often disguised as what we westerners know as ‘summer.’ Rest assured, there are big differences. Summer is a warm time of the year that lasts 3 months and is perfect for swimming. Scorching Hot Season has you running for cover and will melt your face away if you are not in an air conditioned room. What is worse? It lasts well over 4 months.
Non-Stop Rainy Season
Hiding within Scorching Hot Season is a torrential rain that just won’t go away. Planning on waiting out the storm in Korea? I hope you brought a book… a very very LONG book.
This is possibly the strangest secret season of all. Logic would suggest that ‘beach season’ is whenever the weather says so, right? Koreans disagree. Beach season, regardless of the weather, will be a set day to be announced every year! This had created the very odd ‘Just-Before-Beach Season.’ This is the time when the weather conditions are perfect for swimming and beach activities. However, for some illogical reason, you are not allowed to go in the water.
My first ‘Korean Blizzard Season’ was something I welcomed with open arms. I had never seen snow fall from the skies, so that November evening was something I will never forget. Then, snow came around Christmas time too, the perfect setting. January rolled by as did February and it was still freezing cold, but nothing to worry about. By late March however, I had wised up and realized, this was no winter. Winter is 3 months long, while Korean Blizzard Season? 5 months! Rumor has it that Siberians are the cause of this.
North Korea Gets Rowdy Season
Ever wonder why no South Korean is hiding in a bunker every time the DPRK makes threats? That is right, it is a cyclic event! 2010 marked the sinking of the RoK Cheonan. Late 2010 was the shelling of Yeonpyeong island. In 2011 the death of Kim Jong il and more rhetoric. April 2012 brought failed missile tests and successful ones later in the year. Add to that, nuclear tests in 2009, 2013, and potential ones in 2014 and we kind of see the pattern. Every eight months or so when food supplies get low, the DPRK gets rowdy.
At first glance, kimchi season appears to be a precursor to North Korea Gets Rowdy Season. People are hoarding dozens and dozens of cabbage, seemingly preparing for the apocalypse. Rest assured, it is just kimchi season. Sometime after the harvest when cabbage is at a yearly low price, many Korean homes take advantage and make kimchi for the entire year. If there are uber Koreans, they might make multiple kinds of kimchi too. Yes, there are over a dozen kinds.
The stealthiest, most annoying, and hardest to predict secret season in South Korea. Mosquito Season can pop up almost as soon as the ice melts and can be relentless even after the first snow. What is worse, they hurt like hell and are hard to spot. For ultimate protection, better have one of those electrified rackets at hand.
This was the result of years of undercover investigation. I know other spies in this country have also uncovered other secret seasons, so make sure to share them on the comments below.