Experts share insights into South Korean response to Covid-19

Monday, July 27, 2020

South Korea’s swift and thorough pandemic response, which helped it control an early spike in community transmission, has been recognised as a model throughout the world.

After reporting its first case of Covid-19 on January 20, the same day as the United States, and experiencing an outbreak in late February, South Korea made significant progress by focusing on rapid testing, strict quarantine procedures and extensive contact tracing. As of July 11, it had recorded 13,373 cases and had fewer than 1000 active cases.

An online webinar hosted by the Korea Institute at The Australian National University (ANU) has provided further insight into South Korea’s health, economic and diplomatic responses to the pandemic.

The first event in the ANU Korea Institute’s Speaker Series brought together an expert panel to discuss the South Korean model, and the country’s transition to a post-pandemic world.

Institute Director Dr Ruth Barraclough said the event was held to ensure the public appetite for informed and timely news about Korea was met.

“Given that South Korea’s response to the pandemic is quite different to Australia’s, yet both are proving relatively successful, we thought the public would be interested to know the background to Korea’s public health decisions that has led them to take a unique route to managing the pandemic,” Dr Barraclough said.

“We are also interested to know more about what it will mean for our economies to live with the pandemic.

“To this end it was very interesting to learn about South Korea’s Green New Deal and Digital New Deal, both employment-based stimulus programs, that are positioning their economy for a post-Covid world.”

Four speakers joined moderator Dr Lauren Richardson, from the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy at ANU, to discuss health and economic responses to Covid-19, Australia’s economic relationship with South Korea, and how the pandemic will impact South Korea’s position in the region.

Dr Lee Seon Kui, Director of the Division of Risk Assessment and International Cooperation at the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare, outlined South Korea’s health response, including the lessons the country learnt from the MERS outbreak in 2015.

“Since the very initial phase of this disease our government has considered all kinds of scenarios and we prepared for, always, the worst scenario,” Director Lee told the seminar.

Lee Dae Joong, Director of the Development Finance Division of the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Economy and Finance, provided insight into the country’s economic response to Covid-19, including the Korean New Deal, which was announced by President Moon Jae-in on July 14.

Liz Griffin, Executive Director of the Australia-Korea Business Council, gave an overview of Australia’s economic relationship with Korea and outlined four trends that will shape its future.

Dr Lee Jaehyon, Senior Fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, discussed the impact of the pandemic on Korea’s diplomatic relationships, saying Covid-19 could be a gamechanger for Korea’s foreign policy.

Watch a recording of South Korea’s Transition to a Post-Pandemic World.

Join the ANU Korea Institute mailing list to be notified of upcoming events.

Image: ungvar / Shutterstock.com

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Updated:  17 February 2016/Responsible Officer:  Director, Korea Institute/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team