NVDL: This disaster would have affected beaches I visited within a 100-200km radius of Seoul, including Mallipo, which I thought was one of the prettiest beaches I visited. Pity. Had a great day swimming in the rain all day in a sea packed with people at another beach a bit further down the coast. The Koreans are quite modest, swimming often in t-shirts and clothes. If you see a girl in a bikini your eyes - and everybody elses - are likely to fall out of your head.
TAEAN, South Korea (Reuters) - South Korea deployed more than 100 ships and thousands of troops on Sunday to clean up the worst oil spill in its history, which has blackened beaches, coated birds in tar and cast a foul smell over a nature reserve.
The slick has washed up in an area spanning 17 kms (11 miles) of the west coast, about 100 km southwest of Seoul, that is home to popular tourist beaches, a national park and oyster beds. The spill is threatening to become a major environmental disaster.
The slick extends about 20 km from the Hong Kong-registered tanker that began leaking an estimated 10,500 tones of crude oil on Friday, after a barge carrying a crane punched holes in its hull while it was anchored, the coast guard said.
The leak was patched early on Sunday, it said.
"We have approximately 5,600 people who have been working from 5 a.m. Sunday (2000 GMT Saturday) ... doing all we can to prevent the situation from growing worse," said Ryu Hung of the Taean coast guard.
"Considering the tide, direction and velocity of the wind, the oil slick is not expected to expand further for now." [Initially they said the oil slick was unlikely to even make landfall thanks to wind and water movements...]
It will likely take more than one month to clean up the mess, maritime minister Kang Moo-hyun told reporters.
Volunteers and government personnel have been scooping oil with buckets and absorbent cloth, treating birds covered in oil and scrubbing blackened rocks. Large numbers of fish and waterfowl have been killed. By Jo Yong-hak