Corea del Sur

Aprender de Corea del Sur

Con 50 millones de habitantes, casi como España, Corea del Sur ha tenido hasta ahora unos 25.000 contagios por Covid-19 y alrededor de 400 muertos hasta finales de octubre. Al ser este país una democracia y una sociedad abierta, esas cifras son fiables y se pueden comparar con las de regímenes similares como Estados Unidos o Francia. Además, Corea del Sur es un país urbanizado, pues el 80 por ciento de su población vive en grandes ciudades, y su clima es similar al de Europa o Norteamérica. ¿Cómo se puede explicar la espectacular diferencia entre Corea del Sur, Europa y EE.UU.?…  Seguir leyendo »

A man walks past an advertisement for K-pop boy band BTS in Seoul, South Korea, on Sept. 18. (SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg)

Hell hath no fury like a legion of loyal K-pop fans scorned.

This month, K-pop group BTS accepted the Korea Society’s James A. Van Fleet Award, which recognizes the group’s role in developing goodwill between South Korea and the United States. By all accounts, it was a harmless event focusing on diplomacy. But then band leader Kim Nam-joon, better known as RM, made a comment about the tragedies of the Korean War, saying “we need to always remember the history of pain shared by the two nations, and sacrifices of many men and women.”

This immediately triggered the paranoia of the Chinese propaganda machine, which bizarrely interpreted the remark as an insult because there was no mention of Chinese lives lost during the war.…  Seguir leyendo »

To outsiders, the demilitarized zone (DMZ) dividing North and South Korea is a flashpoint, a scar, and a reminder that, 70 years after it began, the Korean War is not actually over.

But for some of us, the DMZ is also home.

Resolving tensions along the border and creating an environment where two countries can peacefully co-exist is an opportunity within our reach.

I am the Governor of the Gangwon Province — a region cut in half by the 1953 Armistice Agreement. Our northern border marks the boundary between the two Koreas. Perhaps no other region of South Korea is more aware of the dangers of war — or more open to possibilities for peace.…  Seguir leyendo »

Durante una pandemia se pone en evidencia más que nunca la importancia de contar con un sistema de salud confiable y ampliamente accesible. Hoy en día ha quedado dolorosamente claro que los países no pueden ir tras el logro del desarrollo económico y, a su vez, asumir que el sistema de salud se desarrollará de manera paralela. En cambio, deben hacer lo que hizo Corea del Sur: concebir estrategias específicas para una prestación eficaz de servicios de salud que vayan de la mano con esfuerzos más amplios de desarrollo social y económico.

A lo largo de la última década, la moderna y robusta infraestructura sanitaria de Corea del Sur ha permitido que este país enfrente múltiples e importantes crisis sanitarias.…  Seguir leyendo »

Kim Hye-jeong, deputy head of the Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center, holding up a sign Monday declaring solidarity with the accuser of Seoul’s mayor, Park Won-soon. Credit Yonhap/EPA, via Shutterstock

An elaborate public funeral was held on Monday in Seoul, South Korea, in honor of the city’s mayor, Park Won-soon, a prominent human rights lawyer and confidant of President Moon Jae-in. Mr. Park was found dead last week, by suicide, hours after a personal assistant in his office filed a claim of sexual abuse and harassment against him.

In his suicide note, Mr. Park said nothing about the accusations, but wrote, “I’m sorry to everyone.”

This news, in its painful complexity, has shocked the Korean people, a fifth of whom live in Seoul. Mr. Park, a third-term mayor, was known to his constituents as a friend to the poor and homeless; a man who, as an activist and lawyer, had successfully litigated the nation’s first sexual harassment case and won accolades from feminist groups.…  Seguir leyendo »

South Korean women stage a protest against hidden-camera pornography in Seoul on August 4, 2018. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

Son Jong-woo is the creator of “Welcome to Video,” once the world’s largest known child pornography website. In 2015, when he was 19, he started the website in the dark web, warning its members, “Do not upload adult porn.” Over the next three years, the site would balloon to more than 1 million downloads worldwide, trading in cryptocurrency and trafficking videos featuring the sexual assault, including rape, of minors. One of the site’s most popular searches was for “2-year-olds.” By the time Son was arrested and the website shut down in 2018, the 32-nation investigation had caught more than 300 suspects (the majority men from South Korea) and rescued at least 23 children in the United States, Britain and Spain.…  Seguir leyendo »

Officials from the South Korean Central Election Management Committee and election observers in Seoul count votes cast for the April 15 parliamentary election. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

South Korea was the first country to hold national elections amid the coronavirus pandemic. The election drew a high level of global attention, as other countries no doubt wondered how the pandemic would affect their own upcoming elections.

Defying predictions that fears of the coronavirus would discourage participation, the April 15 parliamentary election instead had a remarkably high voter turnout. Media coverage took note of the government’s comprehensive disinfection regimen and social distancing at polling places, a system designed to reduce the possibility of infection.

The ruling Democratic Party’s landslide victory became a cautionary tale to other leaders — voters rewarded the government’s coronavirus testing and tracing efforts.…  Seguir leyendo »

A diagram from the CDC site shows the floor plan of the 11th floor of a building in Seoul, South Korea, that was the site of a coronavirus disease outbreak in 2020. The blue shading shows the seating locations of people who became infected.

The most complicated issue in America right now is how, when and where to reopen the cities and towns that have been sheltered in place. Everyone wants resumption of the mobile life of social proximity we enjoyed a few months ago but balancing this against the competing need to assure both individual safety and — because this is a contagious disease — societal safety remains a substantial challenge.

Fortunately, a new study from South Korea has just been published in «early release» form (it is final and peer-reviewed, just early) in the CDC medical journal, Emerging Infectious Disease.

Titled «Coronavirus Disease Outbreak in Call Center, South Korea,» it describes how South Korea dealt with an outbreak in a high-rise building in the busiest part of Seoul with an early, decisive intervention that included closing the entire building, extensive testing and quarantine of infected people and their contacts.…  Seguir leyendo »

Election officials work at a ballot counting station in Seoul on Wednesday. (Kim Hee-Chul/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

South Korea’s legislative elections, held Wednesday, would not normally attract much attention in the United States outside of the foreign policy community. But this year might be different. The plucky South Koreans have just shown the world how to hold an election and protect public health simultaneously.

Covid-19 hit South Korea in early February. The number of cases rose rapidly, climbing to nearly 1,000 new cases per day by the end of the month. Despite this, there was never any plan to postpone the April 15 election. Instead, the nation focused on making in-person voting safe.

The system the South Koreans devised protects voters and poll workers.…  Seguir leyendo »

South Korea, the US and the UK all reported their first Covid-19 cases around the same time: on January 20, January 21, and January 31, respectively. How things unfolded from there, unfortunately for the US and UK, has been strikingly different.

Today, South Korea is reporting less than 100 new cases a day, the UK is reporting around 4,000 new cases a day, and the US is reporting around 30,000. But while numbers in South Korea have fallen, in the US and UK they have been rising exponentially (around 20,000 new cases a day a week ago, about 8,000 new cases a day a week before that).…  Seguir leyendo »

El coronavirus se desató en Corea del Sur a finales de enero, cuando Yoo Yoon-sook cumplía seis meses en su nuevo trabajo. Ella se acababa de mudar de Seúl, donde pasó tres décadas trabajando en la misma farmacia, para abrir la Farmacia Hankyeol (“confiable”) en la ciudad de Incheon, cerca del aeropuerto internacional. Yoo aún no conocía bien el vecindario que rodeaba su nueva farmacia “antes de que todo esto ocurriera”, me dijo. Todo se centraba en el coronavirus, todo el tiempo.

Las 1100 farmacias de Incheon, incluida la de Yoo, comenzaron a vender las mascarillas KF-94, equivalentes a las N95 estadounidenses, hasta que se agotaron.…  Seguir leyendo »

Una calle en Seúl, Corea del Sur. Aunque al principio estuvieron escasas, las mascarillas estuvieron más disponibles luego de que el gobierno compró una proporción sustancial de la producción nacional.Credit...Ed Jones/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The coronavirus erupted in South Korea in late January, six months into Yoo Yoon-sook’s new job. She had just moved from Seoul, where she spent three decades working in the same pharmacy, to open the Hankyeol (“Steadfast”) Pharmacy in the city of Incheon, near the international airport. Ms. Yoo hadn’t really gotten a sense of the neighborhood around her new pharmacy “before this all happened,” she told me. It became all coronavirus, all the time.

Incheon’s 1,100 pharmacies, including Ms. Yoo’s, began to sell out of KF-94 face masks, the equivalent of the American N95. So did corner stores and large retail chains like E-Mart.…  Seguir leyendo »

Corea del Sur ha conseguido controlar la pandemia de coronavirus en un tiempo récord de solo una semana gracias al diagnóstico masivo de su población. Parte de la estrategia ha consistido en distribuir una aplicación para móviles en la que, aportando los datos personales (domicilio, edad, sexo y teléfono o correo electrónico de contacto), se gestionaba la información sobre la enfermedad.

En caso de que el diagnóstico fuese positivo, al usuario se le ofrecía una cita para realizar el test. La prueba se llevaba a cabo en un punto de encuentro al que el usuario se desplazaba en coche, y donde los sanitarios hacían el test sin necesidad de salir del vehículo, de forma rápida y bastante segura.…  Seguir leyendo »

Workers from a building where 46 people were confirmed to have the coronavirus wait in line for testing at a temporary facility in Seoul on Monday. (Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images)

Some commentators are arguing that China’s coronavirus response attests to the superiority of its authoritarian brand of governance and crisis management. In reality, it turns out that democracies are better suited to protect public health — at least, when they take advantage of their inherent strengths. One country is showing how it’s done: South Korea.

“The advantages of the Chinese system have once again been demonstrated,” the Chinese Communist Party’s flagship paper said in a recent commentary — one that was approvingly quoted in the Wall Street Journal: “China’s battle against the epidemic showed that the CPC, as China’s ruling party, is by far the political party with the strongest governance capability in human history.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Lil Nas X, top center, performs with the K-pop group BTS at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles in January. (Kevork Djansezian/AFP/Getty Images)

The world is experiencing a “Korean Wave” — a global pop culture boom that has seen South Korean music, cinema, television and other products find an enormous market worldwide. Earlier this month, Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” became the first non-English language film to win a best picture Oscar (a decision President Trump objected to at a rally on Thursday). And on Friday, K-pop sensation BTS released its highly anticipated new album — one that is expected to quickly top the Billboard charts.

This is not a new trend. The world has been gobbling up Korean pop culture for years — and not just music or movies.…  Seguir leyendo »

El director de "Parasite", Bong Joon Ho, reacciona a obtener el premio Óscar a Mejor Película. (Chris Pizzello)

Parasite (Parásitos), del director Bong Joon-ho, es una obra maestra que arroja luz sobre la desigualdad y la pobreza en Corea del Sur. El 9 de febrero se convirtió en un fenómeno al ganar el premio a mejor película en la 92.ª edición de los Óscar. Sin embargo, la película estuvo a punto de no ver la luz del día.

En 2015, el gobierno de la expresidenta Park Geun-hye incluyó en su lista negra a Bong, al actor Song Kang-ho y a la productora Miky Lee junto con más de 9,000 artistas, quienes en su opinión eran demasiado liberales y críticos con el gobierno.…  Seguir leyendo »

To many South Koreans, “Parasite’s” historic win at the Oscars on Sunday wasn’t just about a movie winning at an awards ceremony. It was about the entire country gaining global prominence.

The film’s acclaimed director, Bong Joon-ho, expressed it best in his acceptance speech for best original screenplay: “We never write to represent our country, but this is very personal to South Korea.” This was the first time a South Korean film had won an Academy Award, let alone four.

In Korea, the response in the media was largely euphoric. Every major news outlet headlined “Parasite’s” Oscars victory, praising how Bong is now a “mainstream director in Hollywood” and how Korean cinema is “finally standing at the top of the world.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Bong Joon-ho, right, reacts as presenter Jane Fonda hands him an Oscar for best picture for "Parasite" on Sunday. At left are actors Song Kang-ho and Cho Yeo-jeong. (Chris Pizzello/AP)

Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite,” a gritty masterpiece that shines an unsparing light South Korea’s inequality and poverty, made waves Sunday by winning Best Picture at the 92nd Academy Awards. Yet the movie almost failed to see the light of the day.

In 2015, President Park Geun-hye’s administration blacklisted Bong, actor Song Kang-ho and producer Miky Lee along with more than 9,000 other artists, who in its view were too liberal and critical of the government. Just as “Parasite” tells an important story of the contradictions of capitalism, its making teaches an important lesson about how a free society is essential for the arts.…  Seguir leyendo »

El retrato de la estrella de K-pop, Goo Hara, rodeada de flores un homenaje en un hospital de Seúl el 25 de noviembre de 2019. (strella de K-pop, Goo Hara, rodeada de flores un homenaje en un hospital de Seúl el 25 de noviembre de 2019. Foto de STR/Dong-A Ilbo/AFP vía Getty Images)

En Corea del Sur, la muerte de la estrella del K-pop Goo Hara está reabasteciendo la ira contra los delitos sexuales contra las mujeres, y la percepción generalizada de que las fuerzas del orden público no han logrado abordar el problema de manera efectiva.

El domingo Goo, de 28 años, exmiembro del grupo femenino Kara, fue encontrada muerta en su casa de Seúl. La policía aún no ha comentado sobre la causa de la muerte, pero se informó que Goo había sido hospitalizada a principios de este año por un supuesto intento de suicidio, en medio de un escándalo que desató un torrente de abusos.…  Seguir leyendo »

According to a congressional aide and an administration official, the Trump administration has requested an approximate 400% increase in the amount South Korea contributes to the maintenance of United States forces in Korea — the «Special Measures Agreement,» CNN reported on Thursday. (Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has refused to confirm this figure, simply saying, «we have asked for a significant increase in the cost-sharing for our deployed troops.») After last year’s talks ended with a one-year agreement, rather than the longer agreements successfully negotiated nine times starting in 1991, it was expected that the talks would be difficult — but this increase is not the start of a serious negotiation.…  Seguir leyendo »