South Korean Yonhap News Agency reported a 5.4 magnitude natural disaster which struck close to the city of Pohang on the southeastern coastline around 2:29 pm local time.
The quake was reported about 6 kilometers north of Pohang at 2:29 p.m. Wednesday, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration.
The KMA also reported other earthquakes in short succession in Pohang afterwards.
Tremors were felt across the nation including Seoul and Busan, with some residents in the affected areas reporting damage.
The Korean peninsula rarely has to worry about significant quakes.
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Pohang is some 35km from the Wolseong Nuclear Power Plant, which has six operational reactors.
But seismic activity is closely monitored because a spike in activity is often the first indication that North Korea has carried out a nuclear test.
South Korean media showed crumbled walls piled on parked cars, broken windows from some buildings and elementary school students taking shelter on a playground.
Reports of shaking buildings and toppling furniture flooded in from Seoul to Jeju Island.
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