The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games will take place in South Korea from 09 – 25 February and 09 – 18 March, respectively. Those traveling to South Korea during this times should anticipate amplified security measures and related disruption, particularly in Gangneung and PyeongChang (both in the Gangwon province).
On 02 February, the South Korean government began deploying security force personnel throughout the Gangwon province and at all airports across the county as part of its security strategy for the Games. Individuals traveling to South Korea should expect a high demand for transport and accommodation services in the Gangwon province.
North Korea concerns
As most people are aware, tensions with North Korea have escalated over the past year, which has some travelers (and their families) concerned about ballistic missiles tests and launches during the Olympic Games. In the unlikely event of an emergency, you will hear air raid sirens. If you hear these sirens, seek shelter immediately. South Korea has an estimated 19,000 fallout shelters throughout the country, including 3,300 in Seoul. These shelters, typically in subway stations, parking garages, and basements, are marked with a sign.
- Download the AFN 360 app that is available for smart phones. All AFN stations in Korea can be listened to real-time via smartphone or on a computer with internet connection. During any crises, listeners will be able to get up to the minute information.
- From your computer, access www.afnpacific.net, click on the AFN 360 link, and choose a desired stream from the menu.
- On a mobile device, download the AFN Pacific Mobile App for iPhone or Android devices. For Apple products, go to the App Store and search for AFN Pacific; for Android, go to Google Play and search for AFN Pacific.
- Download the ROK Ministry of Public Safety and Security “Emergency Ready” app for smartphones and tablets. The app is free and allows users to make emergency 119 calls quickly, locate the nearest emergency shelters, watch videos related to CPR, First Aid, etc.
- For more information, please see the U.S. Embassy and Consulate in Korea.
- In the event of an emergency:
- Remain calm, listen for official information and follow instructions provided by emergency response personnel.
- Seek shelter immediately and follow all directives issued by authorities.
- Expect to stay inside for at least 24 hours, unless otherwise told by authorities.
- Monitor news and other alerts (from credible sources) to remain apprised of related developments.
Despite the focus on tensions with North Korea, many spectators are worried about the weather. Forecasts are predicting PyeongChang could be the coldest Winter Olympics in recent decades with temperatures on opening day to range from -10 degrees Celsius (14F) to -5 degrees Celsius (23F). (Korea Herald)
Some models predict the temperatures could drop to -20 degrees Celsius (-4F) for the opening ceremony. For those attending the opening ceremonies, which take place in an open air arena, a poncho, blanket, and heat packs for their hands and feet will be provided. (Yahoo! Sports)
- Individuals travelling to Gangwon province should maintain flexible itineraries and make bookings well in advance due to likely high demand for accommodation and transport.
- The program for the Games and guide for the Gangwon province can be found on the 2018 Olympic Winter Games’ official website.
- Expect a heightened security presence from 2 February until 20 March at all airports across the country, particularly at the Incheon International Airport (ICN), which serves the capital Seoul, and in and around associated venues in PyeongChang and Gangneung.
- Exercise common sense security precautions against the risk of petty crime. Do not flash your valuables and keep an eye on your personal belongings at all times.
- Follow directives issued by authorities at all times.
- If you see something suspicious, notify authorities immediately.
- Monitor local news sources for weather reports and any information about safety and security.
- Dress appropriately, wear a heat-trapping top, ski pants, boots and thick padded jacket. Water-proof and wind-proof outer clothing are recommended for individuals at the outdoor events. (Korea Herald)
As always, if you are abroad and in need of immediate assistance (medical or security related) please call International SOS at +1-215-942-8478 or UTPD at +1-512-471-4441