Asia Minute: South Korea Latest Asian Country to Suffer Haze

Oct 20, 2015

Haze over Seoul, South Korea
Credit Doug Sun Beams / Flickr

While normal trade wind patterns continue over the Hawaiian Islands this week, those breezes would be welcome in parts of East Asia.  The haze in Southeast Asia has been a focus of recent attention, but now concerns have moved north. HPR’s Bill Dorman explains in today’s Asia Minute.

Haze is a seasonal problem across much of Southeast Asia.  Illegal fires in Indonesia are the main cause - often associated with palm oil plantations.  But now a different kind of haze issue is stretching across some skies in South Korea.

This pollution comes from China - and it’s also usually seasonal in nature.  But Korea’s Environment Minister says it’s come a bit early this year—as the worst pollution of the season arrived this week in the Seoul metropolitan area.  It’s expected to last most of the week.

Forecasters say haze from China has been trapped over the capital area by easterly winds - and the situation has not been helped by drought conditions - rains usually clear some of the pollution.

Another factor is the weather in China.  Parts of eastern China have gotten an early chill - and that has led to an increased consumption of fossil fuels - driving levels of air pollution higher than usual.

Further south, Indonesia continues to use international help to battle local fires.  Earlier this week, teams from Malaysia, Singapore and Australia fought the flames - authorities are now using aircraft and personnel from Russia.