Torrential downpours kill eight in and around Seoul, with more rain on the way

Car damaged by flooding in Seoul
A car sits damaged after floating in heavy rainfall and floodwaters in Seoul on Tuesday.
(Ahn Young-joon / Associated Press)

Some of the heaviest rain in decades swamped South Korea’s capital region, turning Seoul’s streets into car-clogged rivers and sending floods cascading into subway stations. At least eight people were killed — some by drowning in their homes — and seven others were missing, while more rain was forecast.

More than 17 inches of rain was measured in Seoul’s hardest-hit Dongjak district from Monday to noon Tuesday. Precipitation in the area exceeded 5.5 inches per hour at one point Monday night, the highest hourly downpour measured in Seoul since 1942.

Deserted cars and buses were scattered across streets as the water receded Tuesday and as workers cleared uprooted trees, mud and debris with excavators and blocked off broken roads and pavement. Landslide warnings were issued in nearly 50 cities and towns, while 160 hiking paths in Seoul and mountainous Gangwon province were closed.


Emergency crews working overnight were able to restore most subway service by Tuesday morning, but a route linking towns north of Seoul was shut Tuesday evening as continued rain flooded some stations.

Dozens of roads, including major expressways near the swollen Han River, were closed because of rising water levels or partial flooding.

“The heavy rainfall is expected to continue for days. … We need to maintain our sense of alert and respond with all-out effort,” President Yoon Suk-yeol said at the government’s emergency headquarters. He directed officials’ attention to areas vulnerable to landslides or flooding and to reducing the dangers of roads and facilities already damaged to prevent more deaths.

President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden are witnessing damage from devastating storms that have resulted in the worst flooding in Kentucky’s history.

Aug. 8, 2022

The military was prepared to deploy troops to help with recovery efforts if requested by cities or regional governments, Defense Ministry spokesperson Moon Hong-sik said.

The rain began Monday morning and intensified through the evening.


By nightfall, people were wading through thigh-high waters in streets in Gangnam, one of Seoul’s most bustling business and leisure districts, where cars and buses were stuck in mud-brown waters. Commuters evacuated as water cascaded down the stairs of the Isu subway station like a waterfall. In the nearby city of Seongnam, a rain-weakened hillside collapsed into a university soccer field.

Rescue workers failed to reach three people — two sisters in their 40s and a 13-year-old girl — who called for help before drowning in a basement home in the Gwanak district of southern Seoul on Monday night. Another woman drowned at her home in nearby Dongjak district, where a public worker died while clearing up fallen trees, likely from electrocution.

Young people experience high rates of climate anxiety. Some channel their worries into action, often through advocacy work.

Aug. 8, 2022

Choi Seon-yeong, an official from the Dongjak district ward office, said it wasn’t immediately clear whether the water was electrified because of a damaged power source or equipment the man was using.

Three people were found dead in the debris of landslides and a collapsed bus station in the nearby cities of Gwangju and Hwaseong.

Four people went missing in southern Seoul’s Seocho district, which is also home to the private residence of Yoon, who, according to his office, spent hours on the phone receiving briefings and issuing instructions overnight as the rain flooded some of the streets near his high-rise apartment complex.

Nearly 800 buildings in Seoul and nearby cities were damaged while at least 790 people were forced to evacuate from their homes, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety said.

The country’s weather agency maintained a heavy rain warning for the Seoul metropolitan area and nearby regions Tuesday and said the precipitation could reach 2 to 4 inches an hour in some areas. It said around 4 to 14 inches of more rain was expected across the capital region through Thursday.

Rainstorms also pounded North Korea, where authorities issued heavy rain warnings for the southern and western parts of the country. The North’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper described the rain as potentially “disastrous” and called for measures to protect farmland and prevent flooding on the Taedong river, which flows through the capital, Pyongyang.