SEOUL, Aug. 23 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea held a nationwide air raid exercise for the first time in six years Thursday, with vehicles on designated roads ordered to pull over and people to evacuate to shelters or underground facilities.
The 20-minute exercise, which kicked off at 2 p.m., came a day before the beginning of an eight-day launch window for what North Korea claims will be a satellite-carrying space rocket launch that the outside world considers a test of long-range missile technology.
The air-raid alarm remained in effect for 15 minutes, signaling people to evacuate to air-raid shelters or underground facilities.
Subway trains continued to operate during this time, but passengers were not allowed to leave stations after getting off trains until the alarm phased to a warning, when people were allowed to move with caution.
But some pedestrians and tourists were still seen traveling freely.
Schools nationwide also led students to take shelter in underground lots, assembly halls or low-lying hallways instead of the designated places, citing the potential safety issue of going outside the school.
Vehicles on 216 sections of road across the country, including a boulevard leading to Seoul Station from the Gwanghwamun intersection at the center of Seoul, were required to pull over to the side of road and remain there for 15 minutes.
Around 480 multiuse facilities, including large supermarkets and movie theaters, took part in the drill and guided customers to take shelter safely, but hospitals as well as subway, train, airplane and ferry services operated normally.
A total of 57 regions designated as special disaster zones due to heavy rains last month and Typhoon Khanun were exempt from the drill.
Around 17,000 locations, including apartment basements and subway stations, were designated as defense drill shelters last year.
The civil defense drills, organized to prepare the public for an air raid scenario, including missile provocations from North Korea, was not staged since August 2017, amid a thaw in relations with North Korea and COVID-19.