Ave Korea: Things Will Never Be Perfect, Y’all

 
Lotte Tower

View of Seoul from the 123rd floor of Lotte Tower.

Y’all stateside are being set free by your government betters, so I thought it might be a good time to tell you how it’s going here in the Seoul metroplex: we had the outbreak earlier than you, so maybe our results will make for a good “coming attractions.”

As you may or may not know, South Korea never locked down. The subways were never closed, the buses never stopped. Yes, the start of school was delayed, and more people worked from home, but life went on in a much more normal way here than it has in the States. School is resuming next week.

New cases of the Wuhan Virus™️ were at two, last I checked. (In a country of about 50 million people.) The medical system here is affordable and effective. I’ve experienced it several times, and have confidence in it. No doubt the medical care in Korea helped mitigate problems with the virus. Same goes for the States, right?

Koreans have been good mask wearers for a long time. A lot of bad things fly through the air from China and end up here, not just exotic diseases but also incredible pollution. So, the population here is ahead of you guys when it comes to the habit of wearing masks, though they take them off occasionally or wear them improperly, just like I’ve seen pictures of folks in the US doing.

Anecdotally, the public bathrooms here are very often out of soap, or out of paper towels. Again, only from what I see, a majority of senior citizens here don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom. (Of course, I only have experience using public men’s rooms.) Still, they “flattened the curve.” Could it be the ubiquitous bottles of hand sanitizer?

They talk a good game here about social distancing, but it’s not possible. Foreigners like me who come to Korea to visit or live are continually surprised at being jostled, bumped into, or even shoved on a daily basis, at bus and subway stations, shopping malls, and sidewalks. I lived in Japan for nine months, and I can tell you this issue of personal space is different in Korea. Strangers are invisible here. People do not move if they are in your way, and will walk right into you even when there is plenty of room. The proximity of people should lead to a lot of virus exchanges, and yet … not anymore.

Here, friends often eat from the same bowl at restaurants, each dipping spoons and/or chopsticks into the same bowl. It’s part of the culture. Sharing drinks is also common, even during a pandemic. Still, the virus alerts on my phone stopped coming a couple of weeks ago, about the time Koreans went to the polls, in person, to vote, so, something put the brakes on the virus.

I’m not a doctor, a virologist, or a scientist, just an average weirdo, but my hunch, which comes from what I’ve seen from my own eyes, is this: The healthcare system does some of the work, people and nature do the rest. There are several reasons why you’d think the virus would continue to rampage, and yet it isn’t. I don’t think it will in the States either.

Hey America, after you finish that bowl of Count Chocula™️, how’s about you go outside and get some sun?

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  1. E. Kent Golding Member
    E. Kent Golding
    @EKentGolding

    Maybe South Korea should purchase the trademark ” Land of the Free and Home of the Brave”  from the USA.   Your example of how a free people can live is inspiring.   Hopefully,  the USA can be the ” Land of the Free and Home of the Brave” again also.

    • #1
  2. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Dotorimuk: how’s about you go outside and get some sun?

    What? Sun? And burn away into a puff of smoke?

    • #2
  3. E. Kent Golding Member
    E. Kent Golding
    @EKentGolding

    Dotorimuk: how’s about you go outside and get some sun? 

    In Michigan,  we have to travel to another state to get some sun.

    • #3
  4. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    Dotorimuk: how’s about you go outside and get some sun?

    In Michigan, we have to travel to another state to get some sun.

    Hey, now, that’s not always true. Just often.

    • #4
  5. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    My understanding is that South Koreans test, test, test relentlessly, and engage in contact monitoring, so if someone tests positive, their contacts are immediately contacted. 

    Given that South Korea is an example of doing this right, why the heck hasn’t the United States followed their example?  

    • #5
  6. Dotorimuk Coolidge
    Dotorimuk
    @Dotorimuk

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    Maybe South Korea should purchase the trademark ” Land of the Free and Home of the Brave” from the USA. Your example of how a free people can live is inspiring. Hopefully, the USA can be the ” Land of the Free and Home of the Brave” again also.

    Amen. I’ve been more than a little dismayed at what’s going on in the States. 

    • #6
  7. Dotorimuk Coolidge
    Dotorimuk
    @Dotorimuk

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    My understanding is that South Koreans test, test, test relentlessly, and engage in contact monitoring, so if someone tests positive, their contacts are immediately contacted.

    Given that South Korea is an example of doing this right, why the heck hasn’t the United States followed their example?

    Hi Gary. The testing was widely available, but, for the most part, you had to go to a medical center, which made a lot of people uneasy. Of my friends and associates here (maybe 30-40 people, I only know one who was tested.)

    The alerts we received on our cellphones, to the age and gender (only two genders exist in Korea) of the latest person to test positive in the area, and the bus stop or subway route they had used.

    • #7
  8. Sandy Member
    Sandy
    @Sandy

    I’m curious about the general health of Koreans.  Less obesity perhaps?  That alone could make a difference.

    • #8
  9. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    As I understand it South Korea has resolved the issue because they are just better people than Americans are.  

    • #9
  10. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    As I understand it South Korea has resolved the issue because they are just better people than Americans are.

    • #10
  11. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    My understanding is that South Koreans test, test, test relentlessly, and engage in contact monitoring, so if someone tests positive, their contacts are immediately contacted.

    Given that South Korea is an example of doing this right, why the heck hasn’t the United States followed their example?

    Because our Federal Government is run by an incompetent irresponsible idiot, and the political movement that he leads swings from one wild conspiracy theory about the virus to another, mostly in response to his daily ejaculations. 

    We failed to catch the disease early and isolate it, like the Korean’s did, and so have gone into a lock down to prevent utter catastrophe, which was supposed to buy us time to set up testing and tracing to help more directly contain the spread of the disease. But we haven’t done that, because we have 50 states with varying levels of expertise and resources spread out across a vast geographic area experiencing the virus in different waves all unable to coordinate among each other. The one set of institutions that are actually responsible for dealing with national threats  and problems (and the pandemic is just that) are at the highest levels incompetent and uninterested in the problem. The incompetence of the Federal response, its lack of focus and efficacy are a direct result of Trump’s own disjointed and incompetent nature. The man is not interested in doing hard work, just watching FoxNews for 12 hours a day and performing for his fans on twitter and television. It is utterly pathetic, and by his leadership he is making our nation pathetic. 

     

    • #11
  12. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    Because our Federal Government is run by an incompetent irresponsible idiot, and the political movement that he leads swings from one wild conspiracy theory about the virus to another, mostly in response to his daily ejaculations.

    Thank you, @Valiuth. I will need to add that description to my personal profile. I thought my description of myself would be a bit more nuanced, but you set me straight. Again, any time I can be properly upbraided by my betters I am truly grateful.

    • #12
  13. Dotorimuk Coolidge
    Dotorimuk
    @Dotorimuk

    Sandy (View Comment):

    I’m curious about the general health of Koreans. Less obesity perhaps? That alone could make a difference.

    My experience? Significantly less obesity and illegal drug use, significantly more alcohol consumption and smoking.

    • #13
  14. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Thanks for the perspective. 

    Again, we are dealing with extremely complex systems. The effective differences might not be as simple or as few as it seems. 

    • #14
  15. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    As I understand it South Korea has resolved the issue because they are just better people than Americans are.

    I am tempted to buy a South Korean car next (my car is 9 years old, and I wanted to wait for it to be 10 years old) as support for the South Korea.

    • #15
  16. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member
    9thDistrictNeighbor
    @9thDistrictNeighbor

    Ah, testing.  The Grail of the moment.  Everyone must be tested, unless they must not.  Every life is precious, unless it is not.  Every citizen must be tested, tracked, confined for the sake of others, unless you have to fake it to fit the narrative.

    James O’Keefe has another video out today where CBS staged a line at a testing facility.  Say what you want about O’Keefe, editing, or squirrels.  When someone answers straightforward questions in a casual manner, I believe them.

     

     

    • #16
  17. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Wow. This is the grand experiment that Massachusetts has just embarked upon too. Nice to read this. It looks like it will work. 

    Let the contact tracing begin!

     

     

    • #17
  18. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    The Atlantic has a great article today: “What’s Behind South Korea’s COVID-19 Exceptionalism?”  The subtitle to the article says it all:

    “Seven weeks ago, South Korea and the U.S. had the same number of virus deaths. Today, South Korea has fewer than 300, and the U.S. has more than 70,000.”

    I hope that we can take the lessons of South Korea and apply them here.  Like, now!  See https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/05/whats-south-koreas-secret/611215/

    • #18
  19. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    The Atlantic has a great article today: “What’s Behind South Korea’s COVID-19 Exceptionalism?” The subtitle to the article says it all:

    “Seven weeks ago, South Korea and the U.S. had the same number of virus deaths. Today, South Korea has fewer than 300, and the U.S. has more than 70,000.”

    I hope that we can take the lessons of South Korea and apply them here. Like, now! See https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/05/whats-south-koreas-secret/611215/

    We have begun this month a South Korea style program here in Massachusetts. The contact tracers have been hired and are already at work. 

     

    • #19
  20. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    The Atlantic has a great article today: “What’s Behind South Korea’s COVID-19 Exceptionalism?” The subtitle to the article says it all:

    “Seven weeks ago, South Korea and the U.S. had the same number of virus deaths. Today, South Korea has fewer than 300, and the U.S. has more than 70,000.”

    I hope that we can take the lessons of South Korea and apply them here. Like, now! See https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/05/whats-south-koreas-secret/611215/

    That does not mean that what they are doing to make the difference is applicable. Here are just some possible variations:

    1. They could have already had a higher level of immunity, simply by being closer to China and the previous related epidemics.
    2. There could be a lot of other factors that kept their deaths down, like a high rate of smoking, that we don’t really know how to evaluate with this virus.
    3. They could have gotten the milder variant that California had, rather than the version that Europe and New York had.
    • #20
  21. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    Because our Federal Government is run by an incompetent irresponsible idiot, and the political movement that he leads swings from one wild conspiracy theory about the virus to another, mostly in response to his daily ejaculations.

    Thank you, @Valiuth. I will need to add that description to my personal profile. I thought my description of myself would be a bit more nuanced, but you set me straight. Again, any time I can be properly upbraided by my betters I am truly grateful.

    Your welcome. 

    • #21
  22. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    In a densely populated urban area, the main benefit of testing is to dispel fear by showing how many people contract the virus and experience mild symptoms or none at all.

    Tracking the virus is more beneficial in less crowded suburban and rural areas. In a city like New York or Tokyo, interaction of people within crowds and confined spaces is so common that an infected person will have spread the the contagion to many other people before detection. At that point, the cat is out of the bag.

    In countries or states where most people live in densely populated cities, testing isn’t really a game changer.

    That’s my logical guess, anyway. There might be factors or effects I’m missing.

    • #22
  23. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    My understanding is that South Koreans test, test, test relentlessly, and engage in contact monitoring, so if someone tests positive, their contacts are immediately contacted.

    Given that South Korea is an example of doing this right, why the heck hasn’t the United States followed their example?

    According to the Worldometers website, South Korea has only tested slightly over 1% of its total population.  That percentage is far far behind many less industrialized countries like Malta, Mauritius, Kazakhstan, Venezuela, Bhutan, and Djibouti, to  name a few.

    I think the virus’s lethality has much more to do with factors outside of our control.

    • #23
  24. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    The Atlantic has a great article today: “What’s Behind South Korea’s COVID-19 Exceptionalism?” The subtitle to the article says it all:

    “Seven weeks ago, South Korea and the U.S. had the same number of virus deaths. Today, South Korea has fewer than 300, and the U.S. has more than 70,000.”

    I hope that we can take the lessons of South Korea and apply them here. Like, now! See https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/05/whats-south-koreas-secret/611215/

    We have begun this month a South Korea style program here in Massachusetts. The contact tracers have been hired and are already at work.

    Good for you.  Let’s see if Massachusetts can be a successful laboratory for democracy.  

    A short partisan note.  Your Governor is a Republican.  

    • #24
  25. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Because our Federal Government is run by an incompetent irresponsible idiot, and the political movement that he leads swings from one wild conspiracy theory about the virus to another, mostly in response to his daily ejaculations.

    We failed to catch the disease early and isolate it, like the Korean’s did, and so have gone into a lock down to prevent utter catastrophe, which was supposed to buy us time to set up testing and tracing to help more directly contain the spread of the disease. But we haven’t done that, because we have 50 states with varying levels of expertise and resources spread out across a vast geographic area experiencing the virus in different waves all unable to coordinate among each other. The one set of institutions that are actually responsible for dealing with national threats and problems (and the pandemic is just that) are at the highest levels incompetent and uninterested in the problem. The incompetence of the Federal response, its lack of focus and efficacy are a direct result of Trump’s own disjointed and incompetent nature. The man is not interested in doing hard work, just watching FoxNews for 12 hours a day and performing for his fans on twitter and television. It is utterly pathetic, and by his leadership he is making our nation pathetic.

    I’m not convinced that the damage done by the virus is Trump’s fault, or because of any supposedly “incompetent” decisions made by his administration.  If that were true, then we would see much more equal damage done across all parts of the country.

    Instead, the rates of infection and rates of death vary by factors of over one-thousand between places like New York City and Hawaii.  Even within New York State there are many counties that have less than 50 people infected and not a single death, while the counties in New York City and the surrounding area each have 40,000+ infections and several thousand deaths.

    This is the same all around the World.  For instance, Italy’s Southern Region has been little affected by the outbreak.  I think people want to have ready answers on why bad things are happening, because humans cannot tolerate uncertainty.  However, Mother Nature doesn’t seem to care and has confounded us with mysteries that are not yet solved.  It seems that human intervention has only limited effect so far.

    • #25
  26. Brian Clendinen Member
    Brian Clendinen
    @BrianClendinen

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    My understanding is that South Koreans test, test, test relentlessly, and engage in contact monitoring, so if someone tests positive, their contacts are immediately contacted.

    Given that South Korea is an example of doing this right, why the heck hasn’t the United States followed their example?

    Because they actually had a plan ahead of time with well thought out policy’s and testing kits or production of testing kits ready to go.

    It is about planning ahead. They did not implement this on the drop of a dime. They spent most likely billions setting this up over the last decade and have implemented it previously with other China Virus outbreaks.

    • #26
  27. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    My understanding is that South Koreans test, test, test relentlessly, and engage in contact monitoring, so if someone tests positive, their contacts are immediately contacted.

    Given that South Korea is an example of doing this right, why the heck hasn’t the United States followed their example?

    According to the Worldometers website, South Korea has only tested slightly over 1% of its total population. That percentage is far far behind many less industrialized countries like Malta, Mauritius, Kazakhstan, Venezuela, Bhutan, and Djibouti, to name a few.

    I think the virus’s lethality has much more to do with factors outside of our control.

    I agree. Frankly, as much as I am rooting for the South Korean government’s success, I can’t help thinking that the theory about strains L and S, one being less virulent, is probably the reason. 

    Or that smoking, which gives people a chronic cough that actually keeps the lungs active (it’s not nicotine, not unless the virus is being controlled by the nervous system, which it is not) might be the reason too. But that doesn’t explain the low infection rate. It might explain some of the low mortality from the virus, but nowhere near enough.

    It’s got to be a mutation in the virus itself. That really is the only explanation. 

     

    • #27
  28. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Brian Clendinen (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    My understanding is that South Koreans test, test, test relentlessly, and engage in contact monitoring, so if someone tests positive, their contacts are immediately contacted.

    Given that South Korea is an example of doing this right, why the heck hasn’t the United States followed their example?

    Because they actually had a plan ahead of time with well thought out policy’s and testing kits or production of testing kits ready to go.

    It is about planning ahead. They did not implement this on the drop of a dime. They spent most likely billions setting this up over the last decade and have implemented it previously with other China Virus outbreaks.

    Why didn’t we do that?  Will we do this immediately?  Will we do that in the future?  

    • #28
  29. Taras Coolidge
    Taras
    @Taras

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    The Atlantic has a great article today: “What’s Behind South Korea’s COVID-19 Exceptionalism?” The subtitle to the article says it all:

    “Seven weeks ago, South Korea and the U.S. had the same number of virus deaths. Today, South Korea has fewer than 300, and the U.S. has more than 70,000.”

    I hope that we can take the lessons of South Korea and apply them here. Like, now! See https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/05/whats-south-koreas-secret/611215/

    That does not mean that what they are doing to make the difference is applicable. Here are just some possible variations:

    1. They could have already had a higher level of immunity, simply by being closer to China and the previous related epidemics.
    2. There could be a lot of other factors that kept their deaths down, like a high rate of smoking, that we don’t really know how to evaluate with this virus.
    3. They could have gotten the milder variant that California had, rather than the version that Europe and New York had.

    I’m sure the author of the Atlantic article is now being blasted by the trolls for not blaming the Bad Orange Man.

    • #29
  30. Jeff Hawkins Coolidge
    Jeff Hawkins
    @JeffHawkins

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Why didn’t we do that? Will we do this immediately? Will we do that in the future?

    How do you suppose we make tests for the unknown

    The answer’s in the article, they’ve been more exposed to these kinds of outbreaks, then it goes back to “testing!”

    Testing is only good for that moment at that specific time, and for identifying problem areas.  Which we did

    • #30
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