In a follow-up Zoom conference to members of the Southeast U.S. Korean Chamber of Commerce, Lt. General (Ret.) In-Bum Chun warned on April 13 that for the coronavirus to be cured entirely “the whole world needs to be healthy.”
Well-acquainted with the U.S. through childhood exposure as well as his military service, he couldn’t resist contrasting South Korea’s health care system with that of the U.S. going so far as to warn of civil unrest if “you don’t fix your health system.”
As an aside, he recommended the health benefits of “kimchi,” the Korean dish made from cut cabbage, radish, scallions and a seasoned paste of red pepper, garlic, ginger, sugar, and fish sauce, salted shrimp, or kelp powder.
He also cited the 111 Koreans out of a sampling of 7,447 in the general population to have tested positive for the coronavirus after initially being cleared. This discovery was particularly troubling, he added, because many of the rejuvenated cases were in their 20s and 50s.
The lieutenant three-star general, who visits Atlanta regularly and has taught at the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, spoke from South Korea where he described his daily life in recent weeks.
Yes, he wears a mask when in public spaces, has an ultraviolet disinfectant device for his cellphone, orders meals to be delivered at home, and participates in official meetings. But he said that he won’t feel totally safe from the virus until a vaccine is developed.
He described the widespread closing of restaurants and the rigorous attention to social distancing with seatings at meetings no longer being held face-to-face, but side-to-side.
He praised his country’s policies of insisting on aggressive testing, monitoring, and social distancing. Schools have been closed and households without computers are issued laptops free of charge so that students can continue their classes on-line.
New arrivals from overseas face strict quarantine guidelines, most of whom are South Koreans returning home from abroad. The recent arrivals are required to be tested again on the third day following their arrival and must commit to voluntary quarantine for 14 days. Upon their arrival, he said, they are offered either the equivalent of $100 or enough food to last through the quarantine.
Those who have been detected to have evaded the quarantine through a tracking app on their smartphones or through an official surprise surveillance visit at their homes are required to wear tracking bracelets. Foreigners who break the rules may be sent back to their native countries, he added.
As in his earlier Zoom conference in late March, he warned that countries across the globe will have to be even better prepared for “the next one,” indicating that he foresees future pandemics.
On the plus side, he thinks that many health care systems will be improved and on heightened alert. But on the negative side, he said that “old habits die hard,” pointing to Chinese markets where “exotic animals” caged in filthy conditions such as lizards and bats are available for consumption.
For the earlier article about Lt. Gen. Chun’s interview, click here
For updates on other Zoom conferences, click here. Note: Dr, John Endicott, president, Woosong University will give an update from South Korea on Post-COVID-19 implications of lessons learned at 9:30 a.m. EDT on Monday, 4/20/20