Editors’ Note: This article contains the contents of one of the first editions of KOMMON. While we are proud of this work, you may notice that it is a different style than our current publications. In this phase of KOMMON, we were still experimenting to find what style worked the best for us. Additionally, if you were an early subscriber, you may notice that this post differs slightly from the original version; we have gone back and edited for clarity, consistency, and accuracy.
Edited by: Fred McNulty and Amal Kadir
💣 COVID-19 again
[Illustrated by O.T.O]
Collective COVID-19 infection once again 😬
The hottest issue that hit last week was the re-proliferation of COVID-19 from Sarang-jeil Church (사랑제일교회). A large-scale group infection occurred in Sarang-jeil Church led by Pastor Jeon Kwang Hoon (전광훈). A member of the church was first confirmed on the 12th, and up to today, a total of 915 cases have been confirmed.
“The 915 cases are manipulated”
A group infection in Sarang-jeil Church is known to have occurred from a group camp where they did not follow the quarantine guidelines. However, the church refused to pass the list of its members upon the request of the quarantine authorities. It even did not acknowledge the confirmed cases and instead protested that “the government is manipulating the test results of [our] members,”, before ultimately suing the government.
In particular, the most talked about is their anti-government protests held on August 15, Liberation Day (광복절). Sarang-jeil Church and Pastor Jeon Kwang Hoon have been criticized for increasing the spread of COVID-19 on Liberation Day by ignoring the quarantine guidelines that banned large-scale rallies..
💭 Anti-government protests in the church
Unlike other churches, believers of Sarang-jeil Church gather from all over the country. Considering that Koreans usually go to churches near their homes, this is out of the ordinary.
Why do these believers go to Sarang-jeil Church then? The answer lies in Pastor Jeon Kwang Hoon's actions over the past few years. Having poured out remarks of extreme right disposition, he emerged as an “icon of far-right.” His remarks are usually critical of President Moon Jae-in (문재인 대통령) and his administration, asserting that they are "communizing" South Korea. Members who sympathized with his political remarks gathered from all over the province and eventually became a large church.
There are claims that conservative parties are also responsible for his rise. After the impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye (박근혜 대통령), conservative forces in crisis have tried to unite their supporters, leaning against the extreme claims made by Pastor Jeon Kwang Hoon.
In fact, the Liberty Korea Party (자유한국당), predecessor of the Future Unified Party (미래통합당) went on to do local campaigning with him, and some former and current lawmakers of the Future Unified Party also attended the Gwanghwamun rally and faced criticism. In addition, the Democratic Party (더불어민주당) insisted that the Future Unified Party have to apologize for this incident as well. Meanwhile, the Future Unified Party claimed the group's infections have nothing to do with political purposes.
Some argued that the government should take responsibility for quarantine failure. There are voices of criticism for the government lifting the ban on small church groups in late July.
🎓Learn more: Why did group infections occur often in the church? Remember last February, a huge number of confirmed cases due to Shincheonji (신천지)? Don’t remember? Check out our past newsletter! 1. 174 cases related to a church (우리제일교회) in Yongin, Gyeonggi-do 2. 17 cases related to a church (열매맺는교회) in Namdong-gu, Incheon 3. 25 cases confirmed at Yeouido Full Gospel Church (여의도순복음교회), the world's largest church 4. 21 confirmed cases at another church (갈릴리장로교회) in Bupyeong-gu Incheon 😯 But why "Church" though? Reason 1. Protestantism in Korea Protestant churches in Korea strongly encourage their members to participate in face-to-face gatherings. That's why believers are reluctant to worship online. Churches also worry about the decrease in their offerings, which are an important part of their finances, if people do not participate in face-to-face worship. Reason 2. The huge influence of individual churches on believers In many Korean churches, the senior pastor reigns over ordinary members. Some argue that this is a social problem, which leads to anti-intellectualism, in which followers distrust the words of medical experts. Reason 3. No centralized denomination Unlike Catholicism or Buddhism, individual churches in Korea do not have their own hierarchy of control. So it is difficult to monitor whether they are following quarantine guidelines or not.
Ongoing Medical Strike
Doctors went on strike against the expansion of medical school quotas and the establishment of public universities.
[Illustrated by O.T.O]
Government vs. Doctors
The Korean government recently announced a new medical policy to increase the number of admission quotas of medical schools in order to increase the number of insufficient doctors. This policy also includes the founding of public medical schools to train medical doctors who will work in rural regions, consider specific subjects, and practice vital medical fields.
👍The government implements the policy because...
1. Korea has an insufficient number of doctors: Average number of doctors per 1,000 people in Korea is only 2.3 while the OECD average is 3.5. 2. The number of doctors per population in rural regions is half of that of the capital metropolitan. 43.4% of Korean regions can't handle urgent medical cases successfully. 3. More doctors in vital and special medical subjects are needed.
👎Meanwhile, doctors are opposing the policy because...
1. It is true that the number of Korean doctors is lower than other countries but Korea’s medical accessibility is deemed sufficient enough. 2. They argue that there are better ways to solve the problem. These include: 🍀Improving both the harsh working condition of local hospitals and the image of unpopular medical subjects. 🍀The lack of doctors in unpopular subjects should be solved by adjusting the medical fees for unpopular care.
The status of the strike
The government has announced that it will withhold its policy and urged doctors to stop the strike as the COVID-19 re-proliferation has left the medical staff in short supply. The medical staff said they will still go ahead with the strike to cancel the government's plan but agreed to leave essential doctors to the field. Some are worried that this strike may make COVID-19 situation worse.
Social Distance Wisely 🙋
Editor’s Note: These guidelines were applicable when they were initially published, but are currently outdated. We are keeping them up for reasons of historical value. Please check the most up-to-date guidelines on applicable government websites.
Social distancing has been upgraded. What will be different?
1. No meetings with more than 50 people indoors, and no more than 100 people outdoors 2. Business suspension of 12 “high-risk” categories of facilities including clubs, karaoke rooms, indoor group sports, and buffets. 3. For multi-use facilities such as restaurants and wedding halls, you are obliged to wear a mask and check-in with your personal QR code. 4. All professional sports such as soccer and baseball are held without spectators. 5. Suspension of indoor national public facilities. 6. Only non-face-to-face worship services in churches located in Seoul (서울), Gyeonggi-do (경기도), and Incheon (인천) are allowed
* In the event of violating the measures, a fine of ₩3 million may be imposed, and in the event of a confirmed case, the right to indemnify hospitalization, treatment, and quarantine expenses may be claimed by government.
Is there any criterion for elevating the social distancing stage?
💁Social distancing stage 1 👉 stage 2
1. When the average daily number of confirmed cases per week in Korea exceeds the criteria set for each region. Currently, that is 40 people in the Seoul Capital Area (수도권), 25 people in Gyeongsangnam-do (경상남도), 20 people in Honam/Gyeongsangbuk-do/Chungcheong area (호남, 경상북도, 충청도), 10 people in Jeju-do/Gangwon (제주도, 강원도) area. 2. When doubling (confirmed cases increased twice more than the previous day) occurs more than two times within a week AND the number of confirmed cases occurring in local communities is more than 10 per day.
💁Social distancing stage 2 👉 stage 3
1. More than 100-200 confirmed cases per day (in Korea) on average for two weeks in a specific region 2. Doubling occurs more than twice within a week 3. The upgrade to stage 3 will be decided after collecting sufficient public input and taking into account medical capabilities, socio-economic costs, and characteristics of epidemic areas. * Given the current situation in Korea, there are many experts saying that social distancing should be upgraded to stage 3. Doctors also agreed that it's needed. The government also said that it is considering stage 3 as the current state of emergency.
Other things that have changed due to the re-proliferation of COVID-19.
Reservist training, for the first time in 52 years, has stopped (Link)
Democratic Party is reviewing the second disaster support fund (Link)
Vocab for daily use😀
Korean Slang '내로남불’ [Naeronambul] Origin: Abbreviation of '내가 하면 로맨스, 남이 하면 불륜' (If I do it, it is romance, if others do it, it is an affair). This refers to the situation in which someone blames the others but is generous to themself. You can use it when someone has a double standard against others.
Example: 왜 나한테만 그래? 완전 내로남불이네 [Wae na-han-te-man geurae? Wan-jeon-nae-ro-nam-burine] : Why do you only blame me? This is truly a double standard.
Expats👪 News #1. The National Human Rights Commission said on August 19 that it advised the local government to pay disaster relief to the non-citizen spouse of a Korean national as it is unfair to exclude them just because the couple is childless. 👉Link #2. New non-Korean COVID-19 patients are required to share the costs of their treatment if they are found to have violated quarantine rules. 👉 Link #3. The secondary stage population policy task force is considering giving E-7 visas to foreign students who graduated from a science and engineering college. However, the plan excludes junior college graduates and they are therefore facing opposition. 👉 Link (Korean) #4. While universities have canceled their graduation ceremonies in the first half of the year due to the outbreak of COVID-19, Hongik University (홍익대학교) held a"Drive-in Graduation Ceremony on the 21st at Hongik University's Seoul Campus Stadium. 👉 Link #5. Naver started an online marketplace grocery delivery platform called Jangbogi (네이버장보기). Customers can buy groceries from Homeplus (홈플러스), GS retail (GS리테일), Hanaro Mart (한아름마트), traditional marketplaces, and Hyundai Department Stores (현대백화점) on the platform. 👉 Link #6. One of Korea’s famous low-cost carrier companies Eastar Jet Co. (이스타 항공) will lay off 70% of its employees. Eastar Jet Co. will cut down on its workforce to find a new owner after Jeju Air Co. (제주항공) scrapped its plan to acquire the smaller budget carrier amid the corona virus’s impact on the airline business. 👉 Link