The number of COVID-19 patients is soaring in South Korea. It increased by no less than 505 to 1,776 on Feb. 27, when the number of deaths attributable to the virus rose to 13.
A number of countries around the world took preventive measures such as border closure and entry prohibition. On the other hand, the South Korean government failed to do so, fueling people’s fear.
The ruling Democratic Party of Korea and the government seem to be just focusing on Sinophobia prevention. The minister of justice, who is responsible for entry and departure control, said on Feb. 19 that the Chinese government appreciated the South Korean government’s decision not to block Chinese from entering South Korea. Besides, the minister of health and welfare said that country-specific entry prohibition is not right in terms of quarantine. The prime minister said that actions and reactions need to be considered in taking measures. Such considerations, however, cannot be put before people’s safety. This is why the United States, Europe, Russia and North Korea closed their borders and blocked the entry of Chinese people.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in made a call to Chinese President Xi Jinping on Feb. 20, saying, “Your difficulties are also ours,” reconfirming the Chinese president’s visit to South Korea scheduled for the first half of this year. The very day alone, the number of patients in Daegu City and North Gyeongsang Province increased by no less than 50 and people are extremely fearful of coming out of their houses.
We cannot help thinking that such kind of ruling clique’s behaviors are sticking to a show of
Xi Jinping’s visit to Seoul as Kim Jong-un’s visit to South Korea before the general elections in the nation in April has gone out of the window. The priority of the Moon Jae-in government must be to gain votes, not secure people’s health.
Despite Moon’s emphasis on partnership, China’s response returned with blames to South Korea. The Global Times of the Chinese Communist Party criticized South Korea and Japan for being too slow in dealing with the spread of COVID-19, and advised them to learn from China. However, it cannot be denied that China’s quarantine failure is the very cause of the global disaster.
The South Korean government’s mistreatment of the infection source inflow from China led to more community-level infections in South Korea and more xenophobia targeting the nation. At present, South Koreans cannot enter Israel and Bahrain, and the United States, Taiwan and Vietnam are maintaining the highest level of travel warning against South Korea. Similar measures are being taken in an increasing number of countries.
Under the circumstances, the South Korean government retracted its optimism, giving the highest level of alarm and blaming the Shincheonji church in Daegu City on Feb. 23. In other words, the government made an issue of the spread of infection from the church without admitting its fault. It is true that the church led to a large number of infections for the past few days. However, the church would not have been infected if the government had adhered to the basic principle of quarantine in the initial stage. In short, the church is just another victim.
After the MERS outbreak in June 2015, Moon Jae-in as the head of an opposition party bashed the government and called its emergency control capabilities ridiculous. “The super-spreader of the MERS virus is none other than the government,” he said at that time. The current government has to admit that it is the super-spreader of COVID-19.