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Traffic begins to slow ahead of Lunar New Year holiday

National 15:35 January 28, 2022

SEOUL, Jan. 28 (Yonhap) -- Traffic on some highway sections began to slow Friday as people hit the road to visit their hometowns or go on trips during the extended holiday despite the coronavirus pandemic.

This year's Lunar New Year holiday runs from Monday to Wednesday and is extended by two days due to the preceding weekend.

The government urged people to refrain from traveling during the holiday to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The nation reported a record 16,096 new cases Friday.

Heavy traffic clogs the southbound lanes on the Gyeongbu Expressway, which links Seoul to Busan, in southern Seoul on Jan. 28, 2022, as many people travel home on the eve of a five-day break for Lunar New Year's Day, which falls on Feb. 1 this year. (Yonhap)

Highways across the country showed smooth flows in general on Friday morning, according to Korea Expressway Corp. (KEC).

But some sections of the Gyeongbu Expressway, which links Seoul to the southeastern port city of Busan, and the Capital Region First Ring Expressway, which connects satellite cities around Seoul, slowed at under 40 kilometers per hour.

The KEC estimated around 4.97 million vehicles will hit the road nationwide Friday, with 460,000 traveling from the greater Seoul area to the provinces and 450,000 vice versa.

Outbound traffic from Seoul is expected to peak at around 6-7 p.m. and ease at around 9-10 p.m., it said.

As of 11 a.m., the expected travel time was 5 hours and 10 minutes from Seoul to Busan, 3 hours and 40 minutes from Seoul to the southwestern city of Gwangju, 4 hours and 10 minutes from Seoul to the southeastern city of Daegu and 2 hours and 40 minutes from Seoul to the northeastern city of Gangneung, according to the KEC.

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