No ties or hand-driers as South Korea readies for hot spell

Reuters News
Posted: May 18, 2012 11:13 AM

By Meeyoung Cho

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korean businessmen, typically clad in uniform dark blue suits, are being urged to dump their jackets and ties as the summer looms in a bid to save electricity amid tight supplies as offices turn up the air conditioning.

Those living in Asia's fourth largest economy are also being told by its government that they should carry handkerchiefs to dry their hands, rather than using hot air blowers that consume electricity.

"We need all the people to join to curb excessive cooling demand which accounts for 21 percent of summer peak demand," the country's economy ministry said in a statement.

President Lee Myung-bak, a former business executive who appears to live in a dark blue suit, white shirt and tie, is expected to lead the way, as he did last winter when he urged Koreans to save on heating by wearing thermal underwear.

South Korea, which experienced nationwide power cuts last September, will impose fines on public buildings that open doors while running air conditioning.

Wednesday's statement also ordered 478 big buildings such as department stores and hotels to keep their temperatures at 26 degrees Celsius or above.

The maximum electricity supply capacity in South Korea is 78.54 million kilowatts and peak demand is forecast demand to reach 77.07 million kilowatts, up 4.8 million kilowatts from a year earlier, according to the government.

"Holidays centered around early August should be spread beyond mid-August to stabilize electricity supply and demand in late August when electricity reserves are usually short," the ministry said.

It asked firms like POSCO, the world's third largest steelmaker, to delay maintenance shutdowns to late August.

(Additional reporting by Eunhye Shin; Editing by Jonathan Hopfner)