Live From Seongnam, South Korea, It’s Saturday Night


Hello America, from the land of novelty socks, and XXX-sized surplus “A Prairie Home Companion” t-shirts. I’m Andrew, long-time listener, first-time caller. I finally decided to join Ricochet today, partly because I wanted to clear up some things I am hearing in the US media, even on Ricochet.

I have been living in Seongnam, South Korea, on and off for the last six years, give or take. It’s a “satellite city” south of Seoul, part of the metro, but still with a million people living close together. It’s always hopping, there’s rarely a seat on the subway, and jostling is the national pastime.

In Oklahoma, I was a classical music public radio announcer, but in Korea, I am an English teacher in corporate offices and private institutes. In Korea, I suppose teaching English may be the last refuge of a scoundrel, but there’s not much use for me here in radio, as my Korean skills are semi-pro. A woman led me here, so for now, let’s place the blame squarely on her shoulders.

Having seen the beginning of this Wuhan Virus™️ in Korea, I want to tell you what it looked like here. First of all, the perception that Korea was ever “shut down” is wrong. The third-largest city, Daegu, was the site of an outbreak inadvertently spread by Shincheonji cult members. Even during that time, lines for protective masks stretched around the block, and life, to some extent, went on. Here in Seongnam, Seoul, Busan, and Incheon, public school and university starting dates were delayed, but other institutes and businesses opened or closed as they saw fit. In my six-day work week, I lost two days in January and four days in February. Two of those lost days were due to a client canceling. Four were because of an institute closing.

My friend, a female boss of an electronics company with over 100 employees in two cities has not closed for one day during this outbreak. Other associates who work for SK Telecom, Samsung and LG all telecommuted at times, but otherwise went to work on schedule.

In this country of 51 million people, there has been no mass curfew, release of prisoners, overrun hospitals, or mandated self-quarantine. The stores have remained open, there have been no empty shelves, no panic buying, and no people pummeling each other over peanut butter. Plenty of toilet paper available too!

So, it makes me wonder what’s going on in the Home of the Brave™️. Just wondering.

Sorry for the long post. Nice to meet y’all.

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  1. Dotorimuk Coolidge

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    @dotorimuk, I have an important question. Was there any overblown media hype with wild dooms-day scenarios in South Korea about the Corona virus when it infected your country?

    The reason I ask is because here in the U.S. there was just an explosion of media hysteria over the virus, like I’ve never seen before, combined with a convenient condemnation of President Trump, just as soon as the virus was detected in America. As I see it, the media successfully drove the American populace into a mass-hysteria panic over the disease (aimed at Trump), which in turn infected our leaders, which then led to the vast shutdowns of our society. I am wondering if our own media hysteria in turn ignited further panic in the rest of the World, since the World tends to follow U.S. news so disproportionately.

    I don’t think the U.S. media went crazy while the virus was raging through China and South Korea. I could be wrong about that because I consciously avoid listening to mainstream news.

    I am wondering if there was a lack of a South Korean media blitz, was that why you didn’t shut down the country the way that succeeding country’s did? I can understand China’s shutdown. They are a totalitarian Communist country where these are normal tactics and are not even close to the worst things that can be imposed on the citizenry.

    Would love to hear your take on this.

    The media coverage has been extensive, but never hysterical, as far as I can tell. (I usually watch it with a Korean, so I can ask annoying questions.)


    The President here is a Lefty. The economy hasn’t been good for a while. I think the perception here is that he found his footing somewhat. (There was some rancor at first because they were letting thousands of Chinese students and workers return to Korea. The students were quarantined in Seoul. Maybe they’re out now.)

    Punch line: the media here, print and TV, tend to be conservative. Not all, of course.



    • #31
  2. Percival Thatcher

    Welcome, Dotorimuk. I’m glad you’re here.

    • #32
  3. rgbact Inactive

    Dotorimuk (View Comment):

    rgbact (View Comment):

     . I don’t know how SK has supposedly tested the “right amount”. Is there mandatory testing?

    No mandatory testing here. I also am not sure what constitutes the “right amount.”

    Great stuff out of Belgium comparing Italy and Korean testing demographics. Looks like Korea tests lots of 20 yr olds in order to make older people about in line with overall demographics, unlike Italy. By my estimate, Italy would see a 5 times greater mortality rate, just off their testing demographics.






    • #33
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