K-Quarantine K-Quarantine During the recent global pandemic situation, South Koreans’ effective actions and treatment against COVID-19 have been widely appraised. These successful and prompt responses to the pandemic have been possible thanks to the orchestration of their medical establishment and insurance system as well as their cultures of health. One of the major factors that contributed to Korea’s successful containment of COVID-19 among its population is its quarantine and contact tracing methods. By monitoring those who enter the country and mandating a 14-day quarantine period, Korea has drastically lowered the number of imported cases and successfully tracked areas that became hot spots for COVID superspreaders. As a country, Korea has been able to bring its people together, overcoming the hardships that COVID brought through mutual solidarity. By exploring media trends, government aid, and foreign support, this segment analyses how Korea was able to become a pioneer, a pillar for its people among times of hardship. This video shows the progression of Korea’s COVID battle throughout 2020, with the first hot spot beginning in Daegu. Catching COVID Before It Strikes! The key to containing an outbreak is to stop it before it happens. Through the use of high-technology surveillance COVID testing, government measures, and other forms of contact-tracing, Korea was able to limit exposure among its general population. Abundant Testing: Drive-Thru With free and easy access drive-thru locations in almost every city across Korea, thousands of people are able to get tested within a short period of time, allowing for frequent and high testing volumes. Mandatory 2-Week Quarantine To enter Korea these days, all people must have proof of a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of departure and they must comply to a mandatory 14-day quarantine period. These can be fulfilled at government-designated hotels. Contact-Tracing Even after the 14-day quarantine period, all people are required to download an app onto their smartphone that allows for contact tracing. Especially in Seoul, these apps are widely used to check into public areas, allowing the government to contain cases before they spread. Corona Map (click) Strategies to Curbing COVID! Throughout the year, Korea employed many forms of communication to alert its citizens about the COVID signs and updates on the country’s state of affairs. By doing so, not only did Koreans become more knowledgeable on how to protect themselves but they also began adapting to new policies such as social distancing. Widespread COVID Education From the start of the pandemic, the government has readily provided resources to inform its citizens about the dangers of COVID. Not only do they provide real time data, they also use social media to spread “mask-up campaigns” and instill Throughout the year, Korea employed many forms of communication to alert its citizens about the COVID signs and updates on the country’s state of affairs. By doing so, not only did Koreans become more knowledgeable on how to protect themselves but they also began adapting to new policies such as social distancing. Real-time data updates (click) Cell Phone Alerts Cell phone alerts have been the prime method of communication, especially in times of disaster. Now, the government has created a system that is able to send a message to someone who is in the vicinity of someone who tested positive. However, many Koreans have now developed opposing opinions regarding the among of alerts they are receiving each day. Many Koreans have opposing opinions regarding the amount of alerts they are receiving from the government (click) Adaptive Learning After many push backs on semester reopenings and moving most schooling to online methods, Korea is ready to reopen some of its schools. By adapting to density policies and social distancing rules, schools are slowly returning back to ‘normalcy’ after almost a year. Overcoming COVID, Together! One of the most powerful forms of unity is solidarity, and through the hardships that COVID brought upon the country, Koreans found ways to overcome challenges by supporting and encouraging each other to make the situation the best they could, together. Media Campaigns With healthcare workers as the frontline defense in this battle against COVID, many organizations have donated supplies and other necessities to support nurses, doctors, and others who have sacrificed their safety for the wellbeing of others. (click) Lessons Learned After Korea’s containment of the first wave, other countries, including the US, have followed in their footsteps to increase testing, use contact tracing, and adapt policies to return society’s functions safely. COVID Relief Funds Another form of support the government has offered is stimulus checks for small business and families. After the first 3 waves of checks that had gone out in 2020, the Democratic party is drawing up plans for a 4th COVID relief check. Healthcare System: What Makes it Work? Korea has been praised for its fast and efficient response to curbing COVID numbers since the first wave in early 2020. However, even developed countries, such as the US and UK, were unable to replicate the same rates of success with their outbreaks. Why was Korea able to handle the situation so successfully? Government-Mandated, Universal Healthcare With a top-tier healthcare system that offers low cost coverage to those who are sick and those who are poor, Korea’s government-mandated, universal healthcare has drawn attention from numerous foreign countries and has been praised for its rapid and wide-spread response to COVID. Cheap, Affordable Treatments Compared to the Americans, Koreans pay less than a third per capita for healthcare and other treatments even though Korea’s total spending on healthcare totals less than 8% of the national GDP. This not only allows more of the population to receive treatment, but also improves the overall efficiency of Korea’s healthcare system. Firsthand Experience With experience with the SARS virus in 2001, MERS in 2015, and COVID in 2020, Korea has had a fair share of dealing with outbreaks. With each outbreak, Korea has had several health system reforms that have armed them with outbreak containment strategies and research timelines that have advanced COVID treatments and vaccine trials. Positive and Negative Effects: How the Population Responded The onslaught of the COVID pandemic brought about a multitude of effects that rippled across Korea, some positive, some negative. Overall, the Korean economy suffered several blows and as the pandemic continued to drag on, patience ran low. Yet, there was still hope in the midst of despair. Economic Downfall Korea’s globalized economy suffered a hit during the first COVID wave, freezing Bank investments and decreasing overall economic growth. For example, one of Korea’s biggest car manufacturers, Hyundai, had to cease production due to a single component that could not be acquired from China. Because of its dependency on exports and imports, Korea’s economy has undergone a transformative year. Feeling of Solidarity In honor of Korea’s Independence Movement, President Moon Jae In was enthusiastic in proposing the “Overcome Corona” Independence Movement, giving his support to medical students and other alliances that will help alleviate the stress COVID placed on Korea. This is a clear sign of movements in solidarity to unite Koreans and help encourage them to finish the battle with COVID that they had started months before. How Much is Too Much? Communication has been key to alerting Koreans on how to protect themselves from COVID and spreading news about hotspots within a matter of seconds; however, many Koreans have become frustrated with the amount of alerts they receive daily. Thus, how effective is this exactly? As the world struggles to adapt this ‘new reality,’ Korea has emerged as the gold standard in outbreak containment. There are many lessons that can be learned from their approach, methods that were invaluable to saving thousands of lives within and beyond the Korean peninsula.