I mention this today, Friday, because it's incredibly rainy outside. It's been raining steadily with varying intensity from strong to "Holy cow I didn't know it could rain that hard!" all day long. It's enough to keep me in tonight, and I suspect many other folks are feeling the same way...
If you happen to be in Korea during the 장마철 one quickly learns to keep a compact umbrella in one's purse, backpack or man bag (whatever your choice of accessories may be) at all times. Even if you leave your house in the morning and it looks sunny, the weather may change by the end of the day leaving you with a very rainy walk home. Fortunately, most convenience stores have capitalized on 장마철 and, conveniently, always have a wide selection of umbrellas available for sale. Often leaving those who aren't wise enough to bring umbrellas out at all times with a rather unusually large collection of umbrellas to dispose of upon leaving the country.
장마철 also makes Korean summers unbarably humid at times. While the temperature may only be in the 80˚ range, the incredibly high humidity makes one sweat without leaving one's chair. While I never owned an air conditioner in my life back in the states, I find it to be the only relief I can get on those days where I'm breaking a sweat just by typing at my computer. In my new apartment, I try not to use the AC often, and I feel that this summer has been cooler than previous summers (though, that could just be the situation of my new apartment, 3rd floor brick building with very little direct sunlight). But... it's still pretty hot.
Anyway, if you're planning on traveling in Korea, I would recommend avoiding this summer period. These rains can put a real damper on outdoor travel plans. For the rest of us stuck here for the summer, well, never leave home without your trusty umbrella and practice the following Korean 장마철 words.
Useful 장마철 vocabulary
비 (bi)- rain
비오다 (bi-oh-da) To rain --> 비와요 (bi wayo) It rains/ it's raining
비가 올것 같아요 ( biga- ol-kot-kat-ah-yo) - It looks like it may rain
우산 (oo-san) - Umbrella
태풍 (teh-poong)- Typhoon
홍수 (hongsu)- Flood