Fine dust in Korea

The National Assembly of South Korea officially declared the fine dust issue as a social disaster in March 2019 becoming a high threat level in Korea. The weather can change suddenly as well as the fine dust air quality so you should check the weather and air quality before you go out.


Fine dust days are like bad weather and they can appear out of nowhere, suddenly forcing you to change your plans. The city view can be ruined as it becomes covered in grey smog reducing visibility. Outdoor activities such as doing sports, picnics, hiking and going to the beach are not advisable in such weather when fine dust concentration is so high. Sometimes it can be felt in one’s throat so people with respiratory problems should be aware of this issue.

The government always issues alerts to warn you from serious fine dust levels. You will get an alert on your phone too if it is so serious and at those times, it is better to stay home and use masks when you must go outside (even before covid 19). People also often use air purifiers to avoid fine dust that you can even feel when you are home. Sometimes you can find huge air purifiers installed in some areas.

A lot of Koreans claim that pollutants emitted from China are the main cause for the fine dust issue that occurs frequently in Korea. However, Korean companies also produce a lot of goods within Korea, releasing lots of air pollution along the way.

Generally, spring is the worst time for fine dust. The yellow dust storms from Mongolia and China most frequently during this time. Energy production is also high during winter and early spring as people use heaters for the cold winter.

This lasts until the end of April / beginning of May where the rainy season follows, washing the pollution away. Summer has a few fine dust days, but not that many and autumn also has relatively low levels.

You can refer to the table below to see more about the fine dust concentration levels:

The South Korean national assembly also passed a series of bills on giving authorities access to emergency funds for measures that include the mandatory installation of high-capacity air purifiers in classrooms and encouraging sales of liquified petroleum gas vehicles, which produce lower emissions than those that run on petrol and diesel.

Written by Yomna Mostafa