Friday, July 8, 2016

Korean emergency alert messages on your phone

If you bought a phone in Korea, now and then you'll receive Emergency Alert text messages from the Korean government. These arrive as alerts that make your phone vibrate or sound multiple times, presenting a message on-screen, which then gets saved as an SMS text message.

Update: new SMS alerts will be at #KoreaEmergencySMS 

This post has become unexpectedly popular, but it's hard to update in real-time. Whenever I get an alert, I'll post info about it on my Twitter as soon as I can. So if you got an alert and you have no idea what it says, check here. I might have posted something about it:

But bear in mind that I am near Seoul so I don't get every single alert for around the country. You can follow the  Korean National Emergency Management Agency on Twitter to get most of these alerts anytime for almost any part of the country. I suggest blocking their retweets if you don't want your feed flooded.

You can also find an archive of emergency broadcast messages here: 긴급재난문자< 재난상황정보< 뉴스/알림< 국민안전처 대표 홈페이지. That site also reveals the exact cities/areas/regions targeted by each message.

Sample real life Korean SMS Alerts

2016-09-19 Earthquake aftershocks

Image: Twitter user nd_dutch

Once again, I didn't receive this alert as I'm not located in that area (I'm up in the Seoul suburbs), but since earthquakes are such rare events here (or they were until this month!) I wanted to add this one to the collection. It reads 경북 경주시 남남서쪽 11km1 지역 규모4.5 지진발생/여진 등 인전에 주의바랍니다. Just warning people to be careful around Gyeongju, Gyeongsan-bukdo from earthquake aftershocks. A 4.5er, wow. These earthquakes are leaving serious damage to people's homes and leaving roofs exposed open: Earthquakes leave many in Gyeongju exposed-INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily

2016-09-12 Earthquake!

I didn't get any SMS alert for this one, but Reddit user a_consultant received one. I've never known an earthquake in Korea, so that was pretty interesting. This message just gives basic info of the earthquake centered near Gyeongju in Gyeongsan-bukdo, and warns to be careful of aftershocks.

2016-08-02 Downpour warning 

This was an interesting one. I was down near the Sosa area at the time, and got this alert warning about an imminent rain shower downpour in the Bucheon city area. It warns people who are playing in streams, rivers, etc. to watch out. Sure enough, about 5~10 minutes later, a very heavy downpour started and for about 20 minutes or so it was like a flood from the sky. I can easily see how some flash flooding could occur.

This was my personal first for such a specific location warning. I've gotten warnings for Seoul city, and for the whole western coast, but nothing that fine tuned. I'm going to have to assume they're sending to all phones in a given cell area, because I've missed some that others get when I'm out of the area at the time.

Since I started collecting these here, it's probably a pretty dead giveaway that I don't travel around as much as I used to haha.

Summer of 2016 Heat Advisories 

This summer felt hotter than last year, and it must have been, given all the warnings we got about heat advisories. I'll just stick them all right here. All of these are basically the same: it's going to be super hot today, old people should be careful, be careful playing in water, stay cool and hydrated, etc.

These are the days I received such warnings:

  • 2016-08-21
  • 2016-08-04
  • 2016-07-31 
  • 2016-07-20
  • 2016-07-08

2014-07-25 Storm Warning

If you don't know any Korean at all, the above might make you panic. No, North Korea is not attacking. They're just precautionary warnings. For example, the one above reads:

7월25일20시서해중부먼바다 풍랑경보, 어선은 출항을 금지하고 출항 한 어선은 신속히 대피하시기 바랍니다

National Emergency Management Agency -
This is a storm warning alert for the off-shore Central West-Sea area [or in English, the Yellow Sea] for July 25th, 8pm. Fishing boats should not depart, and fishing boats already departed should return to shelter immediately.

2014-03-14 Civil Air Defense Drill 

Here's another example of one from a few months ago. This is the kind that is most common:

3월 14일 14시 민방위훈련 전국 실시, 민방공 경보 발령, 15분간 주민대피, 차량통제

National Emergency Management Agency
At 2pm on March 14th, a nationwide civil air defence drill will be issued [thus the air raid sirens you'll hear at this time]. For 15 minutes residents should seek shelter and vehicle use will be restricted.

If you've never experienced this sort of drill before, here's what you can expect:
  • Air raid sirens
  • People walking along the street should stop and wait patiently inside doorways, under awnings, or ideally inside. 
  • Cars and buses will sit idle, as intersections should be kept clear (in some areas, neighbourhood civil defence coordinators, who are often old men in armed-forced-emblem baseball caps, will stand in the intersection, yelling at people to shut up, don't move, stay calm.
Here's a good short video demonstrating what to expect:

If you're caught in this situation, I suggest taking it in stride and enjoying this piece of Koreana. If anything, it's nice to see the crowded, ever-traffic-logged streets of Seoul in an artificially peaceful moment.

And if you just can't get enough of these alerts pushed to your phone and want more, you can follow the Korean NEMA on Twitter:

This account is apparently now defunct. Follow @safeppy instead.

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