Climate of South Korea
Where is the country of South Korea located? The Republic of Korea is commonly referred to as South Korea. This country is located on the southern half of the Korean peninsula. South Korea has four climate zones according to the Köppen-Geiger climate classification. In the south you have to deal with a warm maritime climate (type Cfa) and a warm china climate (type Cwa, also called temperate savanna climate). These climate areas are also sometimes classified in the sub-tropical climates subcategory, which according to the Köppen-Geiger system does not actually exist.
Most of South Korea has a warm continental climate. The central part of the country, where you will find the mountains, has a Dwa climate, with dry winters and along the coastal areas in the west and east the Dfa climate prevails, with precipitation throughout the year. The fact that a large part of South Korea has a continental climate is surprising, because the country is almost completely surrounded by seas. Based on that, you would rather expect a maritime climate, but the influence of the seawater is insufficient to temper the heat in the summer and prevent cold in the winter months.
South Korea has dry winters and wet summers. Especially in the coastal areas there is a real monsoon period, during which the amounts of rain in the months of June, July and August can rise to locally two hundred to more than three hundred millimeters per month. The northwest, where the capital Seoul is located, has an average of almost four hundred millimeters of precipitation in July. On average, South Korea receives more than a thousand to about fourteen hundred millimeters of precipitation per year. In the winter months a large part of the precipitation falls in the form of snow. The chance of snow in the central interior is considerably higher than along the coastal areas, where the average afternoon temperature is often (just) above freezing point, even in the coldest months. The chance of snow is even small along the south coast.
South Korea has warm to sometimes hot days in the summer period, which lasts from June to September. The average maximum temperature in summer is between 25 and 31 degrees Celsius. At night the mercury drops to about 18 to 22 degrees. In the highest places in the central part of South Korea, temperatures are on average a few degrees lower than along the coast. Because the cooling effect of the seawater is quite limited, it can sometimes become considerably warmer during dry days than what the long-term averages indicate. Because there is a lot of precipitation in the summer, the combination of moisture and heat creates a high relative humidity, which can make it uncomfortably stuffy.
South Korea, just like us, has four seasons. However, autumn lasts only two months in South Korea. From the beginning of October you can see temperatures drop rapidly and the amounts of precipitation increase considerably. Although the days are getting shorter, you will see an increase in the number of hours of sunshine observed on average per day. The autumn period is already over at the end of November. The temperatures in large parts of South Korea have then dropped to an average daily temperature that is around or slightly above freezing. In the mountains it can then become a bit cooler.
The winter period in South Korea lasts from December to about mid-March. During the winter months it is cold in large parts of South Korea and extreme cold is possible if dry and cold air is supplied from the Asian continent. Snowfall is common in the winter inland areas, along the western and eastern coastal areas there is also snow in winter, but the number of days with snow is limited to an average of twenty to twenty-five. The capital Seoulis not designed for large amounts of snow. When it snows, it is generally limited to a few centimeters. In January 2010, Seoul was surprised by a record snowfall of almost one foot, which virtually paralyzed daily life and traffic. The snowfall in the mountains is sufficient for serious winter sports. South Korea currently has more than ten ski areas, which are interesting for both beginners and advanced skiers.
In March you notice that the temperatures rise quickly. The number of days with night frost is rapidly decreasing and in April the average afternoon temperature in many places has already risen to a comfortable 16 to 19 degrees Celsius. The sun still shines regularly in April and the amounts of precipitation are still limited. In May, the temperature rises further to more than twenty degrees in the afternoon, but the chances of precipitation increase considerably. Summer sets in from June, with high temperatures and high rainfall.
South Korea is located on the north side of an area where there is regular hurricane activity. These hurricanes, which in this region are called typhoons, can have destructive power. Strong winds and heavy rainfall caused by a typhoon cause flooding, damage to buildings and nature and possible flooding or mudslides. On average, South Korea is hit by a typhoon once a year. The supply is almost always from the southwest or south, across the East China Sea. It is therefore mainly the southern and western coastal areas that are at serious risk of being hit by a typhoon. Sometimes the hurricane moves a little further west, turning the path through the Yellow Sea to the northwest. An example of this is typhoon Kompasu, which caused a lot of nuisance and damage in and around the capital Seoul in early September 2010. The hurricane season starts in June and lasts until early December. Tropical storms are possible in the other months, but the chance that they will develop into a tropical typhoon is small.
The figures below are based on long-term average climate statistics. The temperatures are displayed in degrees Celsius (°C).
|Maximum temperature||Minimum temperature||Hours of sunshine per day||Days of rainfall per month|
Best time to visit South Korea
Do you want to know when is the best time to travel to South Korea? You can determine the best time to travel to a destination based on the weather and climate. In addition, there are other factors that are not directly related to the weather and that can influence the best travel periods for a travel destination. Think, for example, of holidays or festive periods, which makes traveling more interesting or not, because daily life comes to a standstill as a result. The Asian country of South Korea has a fairly difficult climate. In winter it is cold but sunny, while summers are hot and wet. This ensures that the best seasons to travel to South Korea are the intermediate seasons, because there is more balance between temperature and precipitation. It makes planning a vacation in South Korea a bit more difficult than you would like, because spring and autumn are quite short. This considerably reduces the period that is considered the best travel time for South Korea. From a touristic point of view, this has an additional disadvantage: the availability of accommodations, flights and excursions is too small in relation to the demand due to the short high season. This sometimes leads to significantly higher prices.
The best time to travel for a holiday in South Korea actually consists of two months: May and October. The temperatures are usually pleasant, the amounts of rain are limited and the sun shows itself regularly. October is better in terms of precipitation, but the temperatures in May are more pleasant than the autumn month. Near the coast there is not much difference between the temperatures in May and October, but inland there is a substantial difference. There the maximum temperatures in October are on average around 8 to 12 degrees, while in the capital Seoul it still averages 20 degrees during the day.
Winter in South Korea
Winters are cool to cold in South Korea. In Seoul, the maximum temperatures are on average just above the freezing point in the period from December to February. In the more inland Chuncheon it is a few degrees cooler. The coldest month of January has quite a few days in which the 24-hour temperature does not rise above zero. These so-called frost days can sometimes last for weeks. In the south it is a bit milder in winter. The coastal city of Busan has average maximum temperatures of 7 to 10 degrees in the coolest months, while the minimums are usually around freezing. The advantage of winter is that it is the driest period in South Korea. The chance of precipitation is considerably smaller than in the middle of summer.
In the mountain areas of South Korea you can do plenty of winter sports when it’s winter. Nearly 200 kilometers of ski slopes await you, spread over more than twenty winter sports areas. The highest slopes are about one and a half kilometers high. Here you can ski or snowboard from November/December until sometimes well into April.
Summer in South Korea
The period from June to September is the summer period in South Korea. This is the hottest time of the year with average maximum temperatures of 25 to 30 degrees. Wonderful weather, you would think. Unfortunately, summer is also the season in which it rains a lot. In July and August there is about as much rain in Seoul as in the Netherlands in a whole year. The large amount of precipitation in combination with summer or even tropical temperatures creates a high humidity, which can make it feel stuffy. An additional disadvantage of the summer period in South Korea is the fact that the country is prone to typhoons. This is what they call hurricanes in this region. From mid-June to mid-October, there is a chance that a typhoon will hit South Korea or that a nearby typhoon will cause unstable weather with strong winds and lots of rain.