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(2nd LD) Millions of South Koreans head home for Lunar New Year holiday
SEOUL, Feb. 9 (Yonhap) -- Millions of South Koreans traveled to their hometowns Saturday as the annual exodus for the three-day Lunar New Year holiday started.

   The Lunar New Year season is one of two major holidays in South Korea that, together with the Korean Thanksgiving holiday, or Chuseok, traditionally sees families get together in their hometowns to visit family graves.

   Nearly 30 million people were expected to visit their hometowns by car, bus, train or plane, according to the Korea Highway Corp.

   Officials at the expressway operator said 300,000 cars left Seoul between midnight on Friday and 5 p.m. Saturday, with an additional 70,000 vehicles expected to leave the capital city by midnight.

   Congestion on the country's expressways eased as of 5 p.m., with traffic moving well, the officials said.

   The expressway operator said the estimated drive time from Seoul to Busan, 453 kilometers south east of Seoul, is four and a half hours, while a little more than three hours would be needed to reach Gwangju, 329 kilometers southwest of Seoul.

   "Traffic is flowing well on all the expressways as congestion eased earlier than usual," said a highway official, predicting that traffic congestion would start again around 10 a.m. on Sunday due to increased traffic heading back to Seoul.