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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?Published in