29 Million People Expected to Travel over Lunar New Year

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29 Million People Expected to Travel over Lunar New Year

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More people are expected to visit their family and relatives during this Lunar New Year's holiday than last year even as the Omicton variant of corona

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More people are expected to visit their family and relatives during this Lunar New Year’s holiday than last year even as the Omicton variant of coronavirus rages.

The government is desperately urging people to refrain from visiting their family and relatives during the biggest holiday season of the year which starts this weekend, while closing down cemeteries to prevent people from gathering to pay their respects to their ancestors, but it seems to little avail.

People line up for their trains in Gangneung, Gangwon Province on Thursday. /Yonhap

The Korea Transport Institute said Wednesday that 28.77 million people are expected to visit their ancestral hometowns over the weekend, up 17.4 percent from the same period of 2020.

Some 19.4 percent said they remain undecided, and 63.3 percent of those cited coronavirus infection fears.

Provincial governments have strung up huge banners to urge people not to travel. South Jeolla Province hung up around 700 banners urging residents to stay home, while Sokcho in Gangwon Province is inspecting restaurants and coffee shops to see if they are abiding by lockdown rules.

People pay respects to their ancestors in a cemetery in Daejeon on Jan. 23, ahead of the Lunar New Year.

North Jeolla Province is closing 26 cemeteries during the holiday season and urged people to pay respects to their ancestors through online services. Ancestral graves are traditionally swept clean and spruced up for the New Year.

Some people are jittery. One 29-year-old office worker in Seoul decided not to visit his parents in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province this time. “I went to see my family every Lunar New Year even during the pandemic, but I’m really worried about the Omicron variant,” he said.

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