Cold Weather in South Korea Leads to Heating Restrictions

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South Korea has recorded some of its coldest temperatures ever this winter... and it's taking a toll on capital's electrical grid. A restriction has been put into place, limiting how warm buildings can be heated to.

An unusual cold snap has prompted authorities in South Korea to impose heating restrictions in buildings, as the demand for electricity soars.

In a bid to reduce energy consumption, the government has ordered large buildings to ensure that indoor temperatures do not exceed 68 degrees Fahrenheit until February 18.

Temperatures have plummeted across North Asia, hitting a decade low of zero degrees Fahrenheit in Seoul over the weekend, and officials say the freezing weather is likely to last for the rest of the month.

[Kang Seung-hee]:
"When I am walking it's much colder than last year, unexpectedly. Whenever I am out in the streets, it's hard to endure, very cold."

[Lee Soo-jeong]:
"It's too cold, much colder than usual. And it's cold for a long period of time. It's really cold and I cannot stay outside for long."

Gas station owners and drivers are suffering from the effects of soaring oil prices as temperatures fall in the northern hemisphere.

[Kwon Jeong-jae, Gas Station Employee]:
"It's very cold and we have seen an increase in the demand for oil everywhere. And the international oil price has been rising so we have less customers with 20-30 percent decrease in sales."

[Chung Jun-seok, Director, Climate Science Bureau]:
"Cold air from Siberia and the Arctic came at the same time, that's why we are experiencing the long cold weather."

The cold weather has also hit Seoul's main transport network, with subway lines halted by malfunctioning overhead wires.

Coastal waters around the peninsula have also iced over, preventing fishing trawlers from going out to sea, hampering fish supplies and pushing up prices.