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Following in China’s footsteps

Feb 29,2020
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Residents of Gangneung, Gangwon, queue in front of a community center to collect face masks on Thursday. The city government started distributing masks from its own inventory on the same day, as shortages made it impossible for the residents to purchase them this week. [YONHAP]
An Hye-ri
The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

Korea has stopped. Courts are in recess, and churches have stopped masses. Commencement ceremonies were held without parents, and kindergarten, elementary, middle and high schools have delayed the new school year.

I cannot dare to have the little joy of going to watch a movie and visiting a restaurant.

The routine life that I thought I deserve has been paralyzed, and the freedom of movement such as visiting relatives or going on an overseas trip is restricted.

The entire nation is in a state of anxiety and fear.

I live in Seoul, where the new coronavirus, named Covid-19, diagnosis is increasing slowly, so how scary and frustrating to be in Daegu, where the epidemic control network has practically collapsed?

Despite the fearful contagiousness of the new coronavirus, hundreds of patients are staying at home due to the shortages in hospital beds.
The medical staff have volunteered to work despite the risk of the virus, yet they lack the minimum protective equipment.

Streets are empty as though the city was bombed, but in contrast, people are lining up around supermarkets from the early morning to buy masks. I am frustrated and angry why Koreans have to take the pain after paying taxes out of belief that our safety will be protected, as we are not refugees without a country.

We are not China. And we are not a subject country that has to be submissive and pay tributes to China. So why does Korea volunteer to follow in China’s footsteps, which sacrificed its people by keeping quiet instead of treating the disease? Why is Korea eager to give masks and protective suites to China when they are in short supply for Koreans?

This shouldn’t happen. The experts had a plan from the beginning.

The country’s medical professionals have world-class capabilities, and they have experience responding to epidemics after novel influenza and the Middle East respiratory disease (MERS). They knew that the source of infection from the origin should be restricted to buy time and protect Koreans from the disease without a cure. And they made an appeal.

However, with Xi Jinping’s visit to Korea scheduled before the general election, the Blue House and the government opened the door to China. And the people were allowed to go on with scheduled events and dine out as usual.

While keeping its ears closed to the expert advice and leaving people exposed to the source of infection, the Blue House was like the Sewol ferry captain that left the ship after telling innocent students to “stay put.”

This is shameless. Chief executive of Hong Kong Carrie Lam, who was cornered by the People’s Resistance for trying to please China, said that it was necessary to stock up on masks for medical staff and banned public officials from wearing masks.

The current administration is pushing innocent people to self-survival because of its incompetency, failing to resolve the mask supply for over a month as the infection spreads nationwide and the death toll is rising.

A hundred thousand protective suits were given to China, but the medical staff in Daegu is in a crisis, being told to wear gowns because there were not enough protective suits. Should we feel assured that singer IU, and not the government, donated 100 million won ($83,000) to the Korean Medical Association to buy needed goods?

Somehow, the people in this government make me angrier with their unnecessary comments.

Minister of Health and Welfare Park Neung-hoo, who took the ministerial position with his experience of being an initiator of Moon Jae-in’s fan club Ivy Forum rather than expertise in public health, went too far to keep up with the Blue House. He publicly blamed some Korean nationals by saying at the National Assembly that the biggest cause of the spread was the Koreans who came back from China who were infected there and brought the virus.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha is no different, blaming the people for the fault of the government. Minister Kang had puzzled people by visiting Hungary to please the president in the wake of a tour boat accident that killed Koreans on board.

She is now leisurely giving a speech at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva after some Koreans were kicked out of a flight without any notice, confined in a camp and were discriminated against and ridiculed. She turned the criticism internally by saying that patients related to a certain religion surged.

The Blue House is only looking at China, without caring for the safety of its people, and ministers are only looking at the president. A petition to impeach Moon has garnered more than 1 million signatures on the Blue House board. One tragedy of Sewol ferry is enough.

JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 28, Page 28