My condolences to the residents of Seoul who lost their lives in the flooding yesterday. I read a tip from someone on Twitter who said that this was the worst flooding in Seoul since August 5, 1942, so I did some searching in Keijo Nippo and found the relevant articles which describe the great flood that hit Seoul on that day. These articles will give you some historical perspective into the natural disaster which just befell Seoul. I hope you will find these helpful and useful.
Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) August 7, 1942
Heavenly Blessings Abound on the Breadbasket Peninsula
Five Days of Obon Festival Rains Enveloped All of Seoul
It rained. Water was poured into the mouths of the rice paddy fields! It rained as though rice was going to be planted. The fierce rain that began on the morning of the 5th and enveloped all of Korea, both the northern and the southern parts, did not stop falling even in the afternoon, and in Pyeonganbuk-do, the rainfall exceeded 320 mm in total. Under the skies, where the breadbasket peninsula was joyfully fulfilling its mission, houses were collapsing but with minor damage to people and livestock. Against this backdrop, the Imperial farmers sprang forth into the rice paddies and the farm fields, and they are now hard at work holding their hoes. The following is a report on the amount of rainfall and damage to houses and livestock in each region that has guaranteed this year’s rice crop.
Flooding in Central and Northern Korea
Information reported to the Defense Division
The following is the status of flood damage in Central and Northern Korea as reported to the Defense Division of the Police Department on August 6.
7 Gyeonggi residents were injured, 10 dead in Gyeonggi, 3 dead in Hamgyeongnam-do, 7 missing; 9 structures washed away in Gyeonggi, 10 structures washed away in Hamgyeongnam-do; 28 structures collapsed in Gyeonggi, 12 structures collapsed in Hamgyeongnam-do; 7988 structures flooded in Gyeonggi, 2906 structures flooded in Hamgyeongnam-do, 20 structures flooded in Pyeongannam-do, 2300 structures flooded in Pyeonganbuk-do; 169 mm rainfall in Gyeonggi, 142 mm rainfall in Hamgyeongnam-do, a large amount of rainfall in Pyeongannam-do, 323 mm of rainfall in Pyeonganbuk-do, 788 mm of rainfall in Yellow Sea; no rainfall in Jeollanam-do, Gyeongsangnam-do, Gangwon-do; 5 to 13 mm of rainfall in Hamgyeongbuk-do, no rainfall in Chungcheongnam-do, 150-200 mm of rainfall in Jeollabuk-do.
Struggles of the Telecommunications Defense Corps
Working hard in the rain
The muddy water flowing into Cheonggyecheon River in Seoul overflowed Gwanghwamun Street and entered the basement of the Health Management Division of the Bureau of Telecommunications, and by 1 p.m. on the 5th, the water was pouring into the warehouse. The members of the special Defense team of the Bureau of Telecommunications rose to the occasion and took advantage of the occasional pauses in the downpour to remove safes and documents from the building. After the rain stopped, the team members worked tirelessly to drain the water, and on the 6th, from early in the morning, Health Supervision Section Chief Ogawa took the lead in encouraging the team members, who showed the results of their daily training by moving documents through a relay system and performing drainage work without regret.
Traffic is fine!
Trains were restored despite a 20% reduction in the number of trains
The Dongdaemun area, which is the transportation hub for the Seoul Train Depot, Gyeongchun Railway, Seoul Transportation Company, and Seoul Trolleys, was not affected at all by the flooding, as appropriate measures were taken. Seoul Railway’s dispatch of train cars, which was to be reduced by 20% on the 6th, was restored without any inconvenience to the city residents.
Telephone lines in Seoul partially damaged, but steadily restored
The rains of the 5th caused partial damage to the telephone lines in Seoul, but by noon of the 6th, most of the lines had been restored thanks to the efforts of the Bureau of Telecommunications. The damage in Seoul included flooding of cables at the Yongsan Branch Office, and some malfunctions in the main branch office and outside lines, for which the restoration work is progressing extremely well with all the engineering staff mobilized, and there were no accidents on any of the city’s outside lines.
Although there were some problems with the transport system, the results of the training the Bureau of Telecommunications had received in the past were put to good use, and the prompt emergency measures taken by the Bureau in the midst of Holy War ensured that the telecommunications team was not affected in the slightest.
Complete recovery this morning, Jongno Police Station reporting
The number of flooded houses in the jurisdiction of Jongno Police Station in Seoul was 2,439, of which 12 were destroyed, 5 were swept away, and 1 person was killed, but the damage was limited to the northern foot of the mountains and the Cheonggyecheon riverfront. The survivors were temporarily housed in the auditoriums of Sookmyung High School, Maedong National School, and other schools on the 5th, but thanks to the efforts of the defense brigade, everything was restored on the morning of the 6th.
Defense team in action, Honmachi Police Station reporting
In the Hommachi Precinct, damage was minimized to the extent that some houses slumped due to the relatively elevated conical shape of the hill, thanks to the efforts of all the members of the Defense Brigade and the Patriotic Groups.
Surprisingly minor damage, Seongdong Police Station Reporting
The flooding in the Seongdong district in the eastern part of Seoul was expected to cause considerable damage due to its low location, but the damage was less severe than expected, and all of the affected residents returned to their homes early in the morning of the 6th. They are now vigorously working to clean up their household goods and restore their fields.
Take Care of Sanitation
Director Amagishi of the Gyeonggi Provincial Sanitation Department speaks of the situation
Seoul was hit by torrential rains on the afternoon of the 5th, and an outbreak of epidemics is expected to occur soon due to the accumulation of contaminated materials everywhere. However, since the outbreak of infectious diseases in the normal year has been extremely low, the Gyeonggi Provincial Sanitation Department has decided to conduct a temporary post-rain cleanup in the near future to ensure epidemic prevention. On August 6, Director Amagishi of the province’s Sanitation Department spoke as follows.
“We are happy that the heavy rains have washed away the dirt curtains on the mountain, but it is a problem that the sewage has flowed into the town, creating a convenient condition for the outbreak of infectious diseases. We are planning to conduct a temporary cleanup in the near future, but I would rather that the residents of the province themselves take care of their own sanitation. In addition to disinfecting wells and cleaning houses, the best way to practice simple hygiene is to wash your hands first. If possible, wash your hands with soap and water after using the toilet. Shigella bacteria can pass through about 30 sheets of paper with no problem, so not washing your hands is the most dangerous thing you can do.
In addition, children, in particular, should not neglect to wash their hands because many parasites can be found under their fingernails. The statistics often prove that washing hands is effective to some extent in preventing disease. In addition, I think we must also encourage people to get vaccination shots and take preventive medication, which is something we must all keep in mind as we have more opportunities to eat out.”
[Photo: Mr. Amagishi, Director of the Department]
A hundred yen for the victims
One gentleman deposited the money at a police stall
On the morning of the 6th, a gentleman visited the police stall in Naeja-dong, Seoul, and offered 100 yen, saying, “Please spend it for the victims of the flood”, and left without leaving his name. Upon investigation by the Jongno Police Department, they found out that this exceptional gentleman was Kim Sun-heung (김순흥/金淳興), who lives at 167 Naeja-dong.
No damage to the county (gun)
According to the Director Miwa of the Provincial Defense Division
Director Miwa of Gyeonggi Province’s Defense Division described the flood damage as follows [Photo: Director Miwa of Defense Division].
The flooding on the morning of the 5th was only a minor flood compared to the great floods of 1940. The fact that the damage was centered in the urban center and did not extend into the county areas was due to the fact that this was a developed city, and the other regions were probably rather happy to receive the rain.
The fact that we have not heard of any damage in other regions so far is also evidence that there has been no major damage. The cause of the flooding was that the Cheonggyecheon and other rivers that flowed through Seoul overflowed due to the heavy rainfall in a short period of time, and the water flowed into the city center.
The main areas affected were the riverfronts and the low-lying areas of Donam-dong, Samcheong-dong, and Seongdong-dong, but the rest of the city was not affected in any way different from normal. The provincial authorities need to consider future civil engineering measures based on this experience, and I hope that the people of the province will learn from this flood disaster and study the drainage outlets carefully and think about how to deflect nature’s fury so that both the public and private sectors can avoid further damage to infrastructure in the home front.
[Photo: Director Miwa of Defense Division]
A splendid story of police officers which unfolded in the torrential downpour
The heavy rains of the 5th showed the remarkable activities of the members of the National Disaster Prevention Team and the Youth Corps in all areas. The members of the Dongdaemun Police Brigade No. 2, both the defense and the poison prevention sections, were led by Captains Kunimoto and Tanari to follow drainage work in Chungsin-dong until 1:00 a.m. on June 6. Ōyama Hitoto, a member of the same defense and poison prevention sections, and Tano Osamu, a member of the rescue section, heard the news that their houses were being flooded every minute, but together with Deputy Commander Matsumoto, they remained at the headquarters in Jongno 5-chōme as liaison officers until the end, demonstrating their splendid defense spirit.
Relief Fund from Donors
Hamamura Tamanosuke of 33 Hap-dong, who has long served as the third ward leader while providing aid to the needy, gave 100 yen as part of the relief fund to the more than 300 people who were affected by the torrential rain on the 5th, and delighted the recipients of the funds.
Mr. Mamiya Mitsuji, the leader of the 10th patriotic group of the second ward of the town council, also gave 100 yen to the victims.
Temporary cleanliness inspections of flooded houses
Conducted at Dongdaemun Police Station
In order to quickly curb the epidemic that would hit the city after the heavy rain, on the 6th, the Sanitation Section of the Dongdaemun Police Station immediately ordered each dispatch station in the district to conduct a survey of flooded houses and conduct temporary cleanliness inspections only in those areas. At the same time, all pharmacies in the area were ordered to prepare phenol and other disinfectants.
The inspections will be carried out within the next two to three days.
Hope for self-reliance
Provincial Governor Taka makes a request to the victims
Gyeonggi Province has been providing relief for the victims of the torrential rains that hit the Seoul area on the 5th by spending a considerable amount of money from the Seoul and provincial government’s joint enhanced crop disaster emergency relief fund, and has placed the victims in six locations, including Sookmyung High School, Maedong National School and Donam Town Hall. In addition to providing shared meals, they have taken all possible measures, including lending clothes collected from each town council. The governor of Gyeonggi Province, Mr. Taka, made the following remarks on the 6th.
“This disaster is not even close to being classified as a flood disaster, but I sincerely regret that so many people have been affected. I am also grateful for the fact that the public and private sectors worked together to restore normalcy without any major problems as soon as the disaster occurred.
While the authorities are taking all possible measures to rescue the affected people, I sincerely hope that the victims themselves will not rely solely on the government’s relief measures, but will exert a spirit of self-reliance to overcome this difficult situation.”