The Government of the Republic of Korea
Summary. The momentum of the COVID-19 is spreading widely. It began with the crisis of health and quarantine, but has not stopped at the first phase. It imposes economic burdens and difficulties worldwide. COVID-19 does not distinguish regions, countries, and continents, and poses great difficulties for both rich and developing countries. The economic fallout of this crisis could create major stressors, particularly in fragile societies, less developed countries and those in transition. It will have particularly devastating impacts for women and vulnerable. In addition, the impact on the four sectors is likely to be significant. In addition to the economic impacts, COVID-19 also poses great challenges in various fields such as society, health, education and the military.
First, in response to economic challenges, the Korean government focus on three areas in terms of international economic cooperation amid the pandemic. The government is working to first address the challenges that businesses face in trade because of the entry ban of other countries, in addition to providing strong support to businesses in their export activities and export financing. In May, measures to promote overseas infrastructure construction will also be announced to support development and contracting of large-scale projects. Second, to control new risks in trade under such difficult circumstances, and to strengthen the bilateral cooperation with major countries, Korea will closely monitor the potential risk factors where conflicts may arise so that businesses can avoid additional burden. Lastly, the Korean government plans to be prepared for the new global order and changes in the global value chain in the post-COVID-19 era by diversifying markets, expanding trade and broadening overseas investment, as well as securing manufacturing supplies against the changing global value chain.
Second, in response to education challenges, the Korean government has provided online content to enable students to continue learning with the help of their parents and prepare themselves for the new semester, with the goal of reducing the learning gap prior to the actual start of school, after the postponement of school year at primary, junior high, and high schools due to the coronavirus outbreak. Moreover, the government has laid the groundwork for practical online learning by establishing systems in preparations for online classes during this period. All students have been learning online since primary, junior high, high schools started online curricula on April 20, 2020.
Third, despite fear of virus spread, Korea become the only country that held a general election during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite worries over infections caused by the coronavirus, the Korean government pushed ahead with the election. The government recognized that the spread of the virus had begun to ease off and that the direct form of democracy adopted by Korea is a basic right given to the public. The Korean public cast their votes in spite of the risk of transmission in order to exercise their right to vote, complying with quarantine guidelines set by the government. As a result of this, the voting rate in the general election stood at 66.2 percent, the highest figure in 28 years.
Fourth, in response to working and business challenges, the government implemented three-shift remote work from March 16 as part of the effort to avoid further contagion in regional areas and avoid any vacuums in the implementation of government work as there was an increase in the number of confirmed patients among civil servants. Under this non-face-to-face working environment, which was built based on a range of ICT technologies including Cloud Mobile, government officials have been working just as efficiently as if they had showed up at the office.
Fifth, Korea was successful in slowing down the COVID-19 transmission utilizing digital technology and without strict border control or movement restrictions. All eyes are on the various measures taken by the Korean government to limit transmission, including innovative methods like the drive-thru and walk-thru testing, extensive testing, quick diagnosis, and the use of ICT to inform and track confirmed cases. Through these, Korea was able to flatten the spread curve of virus without taking draconian measures.
Sixth, the Korean government was able to successfully tackle the panic buying phenomenon by launching an Inter-governmental Mask TF chaired by Vice Minister of Finance, conducting public procurement for the entire production of masks, expanding production capacity, and utilizing digital technologies in allocation and distribution process.
And seventh, Covid-19 was also big testing time for military services. When the national infectious disease crisis level was elevated to ‘Red’ as COVID-19 spread to local communities, MND (Ministry of National Defense) approached the COVID-19 situation as equivalent to wartime and actively executed preventive measures to support governmental efforts. MND solved hospital bed shortage problems by quickly remodeling military hospitals including the Armed Forces Daegu Hospital and newly established and operated the Defense Rapid Support Group to process requests from local governments and government institutions. MND also shortened training periods for medical personnel including medical officers for their rapid deployment to local settings.
“We are facing a global health crisis unlike any in the 75-year history of the United Nations – one that is spreading human suffering, infecting the global economy and upending people’s lives.”
UN Secretary-General António Guterres
“Global cooperation is essential to the containment of the COVID-19 and its economic impact, particularly if the outbreak turns out to be more persistent and widespread. To be adequately prepared, now is the time to recognize the potential risk for fragile states and countries with weak health care systems.”
IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva
“This crisis is first and foremost a health crisis which has forced governments to take unprecedented measures to protect people’s lives,”
WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the world economy is expected to experience an economic slump more serious than anticipated. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the global economy is expected to grow at -3% (much worse than during the 2008-09 financial crisis) while global trade volume also grows at -11%, raising concerns over an economic recession like no other in history. In this regard, the changes in international economic conditions such as the drop in the global trade volume and the limited cross-border
According to the World Trade Organization, World merchandise trade is set to plummet by between 13 and 32% in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly all regions will suffer double-digit declines in trade volumes in 2020, with exports from North America and Asia hit hardest. Trade will likely fall steeper in sectors with complex value chains, particularly electronics and automotive products. A 2021 recovery in trade is expected, but dependent on the duration of the outbreak and the effectiveness of the policy responses.
The momentum of the COVID-19 is spreading widely. It began with the crisis of health and quarantine, but has not stopped at the first phase. It imposes economic burdens and difficulties worldwide. COVID-19 does not distinguish regions, countries, and continents, and poses great difficulties for both rich and developing countries. The economic fallout of this crisis could create major stressors, particularly in fragile societies, less developed countries and those in transition. Because, economic instability will have particularly devastating impacts for women and vulnerable. In addition to the economic sector, the impact on the four sectors is likely to be significant. In addition to the economic impacts, COVID-19 also poses great challenges in various fields such as society, health, education and the military.
World merchandise trade volume, 2000-2022 (WTO)
Ratio of world merchandise trade growth to world GDP growth, 1990-2020 (WTO)
First, COVID-19 is causing significant hardship on education. Most governments around the world have temporarily closed educational institutions in an attempt to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. These nationwide closures are impacting over 90% of the world’s student population. Several other countries have implemented localized closures impacting millions of additional learners in their efforts to mitigate the immediate impact of school closures, particularly for more vulnerable and disadvantaged communities, and to facilitate the continuity of education for all through remote learning. Unfortunately, one of the most tangible outcomes of COVID-19 is the ever-increasing socio-economic gap between learners, with some of the most vulnerable children bearing the greatest impacts.
Global school closures status by COVID-19 (UNESCO)
Second, COVID-19 is disturbing very fundamental of democracy, an election. In 2020, elections are planned for major countries. Parliamentary elections are held in Australia, France, India and Korea. Also, US Presidential and Congressional elections are scheduled in November. Voters standing in line close to each other, handling ballots and using touch screens make for a potentially toxic stew of community transmission of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). However, a postponement of elections or referenda, or the decision to proceed with a vote – even with mitigation measures – can create political tensions and undermine legitimacy of elected officials around the world. Election officials and policymakers must give full attention to possible mitigation strategies.
Third, the COVID-19 outbreak is changing the workplace landscape. An increasing number of companies are allowing their employees to work from home to prevent the further spread of the virus. While there have been growing calls for introducing the “smart work” system, many countries has yet to fully adopt the new way of working. Attention is drawn to whether it will take firm root in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And the COVID-19 brought whole new enemy to our military. Responding to the COVID19 pandemic became the top task of the military in all countries. A new coronavirus cases were confirmed in four U.S. aircraft carriers. On the French nuclear-powered aircraft carrier ‘Charles de Gaulle’, coronavirus confirmed, and the operation was stalled. Recently, the biggest topic of NATO’s Spring 2020 Innovation Challenge was not the military strategy, but the coronavirus response. With the spread of coronavirus, militaries from around the world have huge challenges in supporting the decision-making of military leaders and delivering logistics and supplies to isolated individuals and teams without infection and spread of virus.
We would like to introduce Korea’s efforts to achieve resilient recovery, in a situation where coronavirus still has serious impact on education, work, society, and the military beyond health and economy. Korea’s fight against the pandemic is still ongoing with possible resurgence. While it is premature to provide the answer in responding COVID-19, the following information can be understood as a one of lessons and experiences in tackling COVID-19.
TESTING TIME FOR SCHOOLS AND EDUCATORS
After the decision to postpone the beginning of the school year at primary, junior high, and high schools due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Korean government has provided online content to enable students to continue learning with the help of their parents and prepare themselves for the new semester, with the goal of reducing the learning gap prior to the actual start of school. Moreover, the government has laid the groundwork for practical online learning by establishing systems in preparations for online classes during this period. All students have been learning online since primary, junior high, high schools started online curricula on April 20, 2020.
Meanwhile, universities have been recommended to delay the commencement of classes by up to four weeks. As of the end of April, they are currently offering online classes instead of in-person group classes until the coronavirus pandemic ends.
Decision on school delays
Decision on online classes and postponing the start of the school semester
Before the regular semester was supposed to begin in early March, the Korean government reviewed the need to delay the semester to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. On February 23, the start date was postponed by one week from the original date of March 2 to March 9. However, it was inevitable that schools would have to close for a longer period as the coronavirus spread across the world in early March. Based on the increase in new cases, the government further pushed back the start date to April 8, with the aim of avoiding possible secondary infections in school and implementing social distancing.
Universities calling off the new school year
As universities were set to begin the new semester in early March, it was predicted that there would be a huge influx of overseas students coming from countries, such as China, which has reported one of the highest infection rates in the world. The government recommended that each school have the option of postponing its start date by up to four weeks in an effort to stem secondary contagions through universities across regional areas. Accordingly, all campuses have delayed the new semester by two or four more weeks.
Operating a platform for information exchange among teachers
and providing online content during school closures
The government has created a range of measures to close learning gaps and prepare students for the new semester during these unexpected school closures following COVID-19.
Assigning homeroom teachers and providing curriculum guidance
To begin, homeroom teachers were assigned in the first week of March when primary, junior high, and high schools usually start. Students were able to access future curriculum plans. This has helped ease anxiety among students and parents arising from delays in the school start date. Furthermore, online learning programs for autonomous learning were provided free or charge to primary, junior high, and high school students. The platforms involve Edunet and EBS video clips.
Offering online textbooks and giving student feedback
Digital textbooks, including video clips and test questions, were provided online starting from the second week of March. Homeroom teachers uploaded preview homework to an online classroom titled ‘School-on’ in order to encourage student participation and enable students to receive feedback. ‘School-on’ was designed for teachers to create an online classroom and have easy access to essential information for teaching and guidance. Through comprehensive learning support on the website http://onschool.edunet.net, this platform makes it possible for teachers and students to interact with each other.
Teachers created their own websites in several city and district offices of education, which are separate from platforms on a central government level. These websites offer learning materials by school year and weekday, streaming services, and You-Tube videos. The internet-based curricula have encouraged more active participation from students.
Daegu Metropolitan Office of Education
Teachers voluntarily built an online website called “Go to school.COM’ to promote solidarity between newly assigned homeroom teachers and students and enhance trust in public education through learning support programs. On this website, students get resources in sections dedicated to each school year and can access online content such as streaming art classes where students can directly participate
Jeollanamdo Office of Education
The school of Creative Convergence Education in Jeollanamdo Province developed an online learning platform named ‘Jeollanamdo Province Classroom On. COM’ Instead of one-directional online content, this website adopted a questionnaire system where teachers can communicate with students as the class progresses. Students can use the program via the internet and an application without a separate log-in procedure, making it available nationwide.
Measures to recognize remote classrooms
in preparation for the beginning of online classes
Given the current COVID-19 circumstances, it is impossible for students to meet for inperson classes. In light of this, there are limitations to delaying the beginning of the new semester for a short period of time. Therefore, it is imperative that Korea create guidelines through which schools can successfully begin online classes and make use of remote classrooms. With this in mind, the Korean government incorporated the concept of digital classrooms and classroom management into the current educational law that covers primary and junior high schools. The objective of this revision is to take current education methods to the next level in a future-oriented manner. These efforts include converting traditional offline education into a mix of both online and offline education.
For example, digital classrooms are broken down into interactive, content-based, and taskfocused classrooms. Schools are allowed to select a type from among these options on the level of academic content, how burdened students feel about their studies, and the school’s conditions. In principle, school grades are given according to attendance and level of student participation after the beginning of in-person group classes. All this has eased worries about online classes among both parents and students.
Phased beginning of online school
On April 9, online classes began for third graders at junior high and high schools. Despite the decline in newly confirmed COVID-19 cases, there were worries over further transmissions in regional areas caused by the new semester. In response to the crisis, online schooling was chosen by the government to bridge learning gaps through remote education. However, problems could still occur despite meticulous preparation. For example, there could be system overload if all students participate in online classes at once. To ensure the stability of servers, the government launched different online schools at different times for primary, junior high, and high school education. As of April 20, all online primary, junior high and high schools had begun.
A range of educational activities tailored to students in each school year
In particular, TV education platforms accompanied by remote classrooms provide a wide range of audiovisual programs, such as traditional subjects, arts, music, painting, and science. The conversion to TV programs and tele-learning helps students adapt to classrooms using only their smartphones. These programs are tailored to students in each stage of growth and development. Furthermore, four hundred thousand e-Books have been donated to students who find it difficult to go to schools or public libraries due to COVID-19. Each student can read four electronic books for one month.
Guaranteeing education equality through support for low-income families
Meanwhile, the government has lent without cost approximately 316,000 smart devices to students from low-income families, including tablets owned by schools and offices of education, in an attempt to help students receiving an online education.
The government has also taken measures to embrace all students across the board in online education so that they can connect to learn remotely and participate in online classes. These efforts involve granting unlimited data access to parents, teachers, and students who use online education programs without any concerns about data limits or telephone bills.
Online lectures at universities
Universities have moved online after they decided to close their campuses for up to four weeks to stop the spread of the COVID-19. Each school made the decision to conduct online classes in accordance with their circumstances and courses. It is recommended that universities obtain digital equipment, including video recording, to provide recorded classrooms or real-time classes online. As of the end of April (which is part of the social distancing period), universities are holding classes remotely.
Seoul National University is using remote classrooms 1) in the format of real-time online classrooms, 2) utilizing video recording, and 3) assigning homework and having discussions. All remote classrooms are linked to the university’s online learning systems and are in progress.
Seoul National University created a learning environment that can be simul-taneously accessed by up to 11,000 through an expanded system. The school also set up a task force in support of remote classrooms to help make remote learning more efficient. Furthermore, it handles questions and problems faced by remote classroom users in real time at call centers and via email.
In order to avoid discriminating against students with disabilities, the school provides realtime shorthand during real-time lectures if the student registers for this service in advance. When using a recorded lecture, students are given shorthand notes after the class. For requesting ghostwriting support, ghostwriting materials are given after the class. Materials are also provided in braille.
In principle, exams are taken online in order to prevent additional transmissions. The issue of mid-terms was left up to individual lecturers. However, finals must be taken. Schools formulated detailed guidelines in an attempt to prevent confusion between professors and students.
TESTING TIME FOR SAFE AND SMART WORKING
‘Smart Work’ and non-face-to-face working environments
The government implemented three-shift remote work from March 16 as part of the effort to avoid further contagion in regional areas and avoid any vacuums in the implementation of government work as there was an increase in the number of confirmed patients among civil servants. Under this non-face-to-face working envi-ronment, which was built based on a range of ICT technologies including Cloud Mobile, government officials have been working just as efficiently as if they had showed up at the office.
The concept of non-contact working environments and components
G Drive (storage for work materials)
G Office (for writing documents)
On-Nara documents (for reporting/approval)
Mail/I-Um (PC video conference)
e-Person (checking attendance at work)
Digital budget and accounting system
(for dealing with budgets and accounting)
Work portal for each institution, etc.
National information and communication network (called the network for work), the internet network, GVPN, etc.
PCs, laptops, tablets, etc.
The non-contact working environment refers to an environment for administrative work, including writing or reporting documents and requesting approval, where employees can log onto a network for work through a Global Virtual Private Network (GVPN) at any time even outside of the office during a business trip or when working remotely.
The concept of GVPN and procedures
With Virtual Private Network technologies being used, the GVPN delivers a service for public servants to access the government administrative systems while on domestic overseas business trips or at home through the internet. The GVPN is used as a certification tool so civil servants who received Government Public Key Infra-structure (GPKI) can log onto the service.
※GPKI refers to an electronic signature-based certification method to check IDs from government institutions and public servants and prevent document forgery.
Working through the GVPN
GVPN can be used only for permitted work related to work management systems (including a program named Harmony), PC video conference, and digital budget and accounting systems.
In particular, it cannot be used for services such as messengers and Web-hard versions due to security risks.
Supports in relation to COVID-19 (GVPN)
1) Expanding systems and optimizing resources
– Expanding the number of Web users from two to five and VPN licenses from 24,000 to 40,000, an increase of 16,000
– Optimizing load distribution methods named SLB from hash to wash and web server traffic
– Increasing the maximum network capacity (national information telecom networks and VPN broadband from 1G to 4G)
2) Support for GVPN use among employees working from home
– Distributing signup guidelines, user manuals, and FAQs
– Training for using GVPN via video conference for workers in institutions at the Sejong Government Complex (three times, 92 workers from 21 government bodies)
– Workers who work from home at call centers from 9 am to 6 pm over the weekend
3) Monitoring the daily system use volume (trends in additional or fewer subscribers, use traffic, simultaneous log-ins, and networks)
– During heavy traffic hours with the highest number of people logged onto the internet simultaneously (between 8 am and 10 am), focused monitoring every 10 minutes (simultaneous or total connections), etc.
Preparation for working from home
Use of MS Windows 7 or an upgraded version (Windows 10 recommended), PC with Internet Explorer 11
When necessary, install office programs, including Hangul, PDF Viewer, and Microsoft Office
A network environment where internet users rely on wired LAN or Wi-Fi, or LTE (4G or 5G)
Install GPKI and GVPN SW on your laptop after registering on GVPN
Upload administrative materials from your PC to the network for working on the G Drive
Cloud-based G Drive and Web Office
Cloud-based systems, a core part of non-contact working environments, are provided by SaaS. G Drive is a cloud storage service where users can save and access work materials on their office PCs at any time and from any location. The voting management officer seals the voting box in the presence of an advance polling observer, applies guidelines and attaches a special sealing paper, then transfers it to the committee in the given district, city, or council.
Components of G Drive document box
My document – personal document / work document
Share folder in a department – work plan / reports / references
On-Nara folder – related document
Joint work folder – document necessary for joint work among organizations
Web Office is a Web compiling service that enables users to read or compile work related materials on Web browsers, without installing document compiling programs on their terminal. As long as you can use the internet, you can revise documents regardless of the terminal environment. Furthermore, Web Office serves the function of simultaneous compilation through which several people can edit a document together. This creates a working environment where workers can edit documents as if they were meeting face to face.
Electronic approval and document distribution1
The government built the common foundation for Cloud services in 2016, and has put together an administrative system, which is used across all administrative institutions. Of these services, On-Nara Document 2.0 integrates electronic approval request systems, which were previously managed separately by each government institution. This system ranges from the production of documents to distribution. On-Nara Document 2.0 categorizes and manages documents based on the Business Reference Model or BRM. Even before the coronavirus outbreak, all processes from document release, approval requests, and distribution were managed electronically through the On-Nara Document System. For this reason, employees were able to continue working without any difficulties when work systems at government bodies were shifted to non-contact working environments.
Document 24 is a document distribution service for the public that is run by the Ministry of Public Administration and Security (MPAS). This system helps ordinary people, companies, and organizations submit public documents via the internet at any time regardless of the working hours at government agencies. This service has grabbed attention since its set-up because users do not have a deadline for printing documents, thereby saving on printing, transportation, and labor costs. Public documents can be received and transmitted to all destinations, including private companies, so the program has helped the public settle welfare payments or pay fines during the social distancing period without any hassle.
Mail, messenger, and PC video conferences
Workers should be able to share ideas even in non-contact working environments, as if they were face to face. Mail services, which are generally used at work, were divided into On-Nara Mail, which makes it possible to receive and send mail only within the administrative network, and a public servant integration mail service that is used for contacting outside organizations. The program fulfilled the dual goals of promoting cooperation and maintaining security.
The messenger offers different services based on work methods on purpose. It consists of On-Nara messenger, which is used across all government bodies, and a mobile messenger Barotalk which can be accessed by outside organizations. Some institutions use one messenger for their headquarters and another messenger for communication with government bodies under their umbrella.
In the non-contact working environment, PC video conferences are a popular way to save time and costs incurred by the relocation of the Government Complex to Sejong. It only takes screens, speakers, microphones, and an internet connection for people to participate in virtual meetings without any complicated procedures. They can communicate with each other, view each other’s screens and share conference materials at the same time. This helps participates stay focused and feel as if they are part of the meeting. Internal meetings without participation from external organizations can be held in a safer and more convenient manner by logging onto a PC video conference. Remote workers can also access the administration network and be part of meetings.
In addition to office PCs and individual terminals, PC video conferences can also be connected to a video conference room so that workers can hold a plenary meeting. A total of 708 video conference rooms are established in the Blue House, National Assembly, and smart work centers, allowing for maximum convenience.
Use of non-contact working environments
The government has encouraged working from home to implement social distancing because of COVID-19. The number of GVPN subscribers skyrocketed 221% in a month2. The department in charge of GVPN focused on monitoring traffic every ten minutes from 8 am to 10 am in order to provide a stable online service. During the remote working period, the department checked daily system use, increases in subscriber numbers, traffic, and the number of simultaneous users. It is predicted that there will continue to be strong demand for the services. Servers and network capacities were expanded so that more than 100,000 public officials (more than 75 percent of civil servants serving at central administrative agencies) can work from home.
– The average rate of using resources is 20% for CPU and 25% for memory, maintaining stable functions.
– The network bandwidth (four gigabytes) is stable with 770 Mbps on average.
User manuals and FAQs have been distributed to users who feel unfamiliar with remote work and non-contact working environments despite social distancing. Workers from government bodies in the Sejong Government Complex have learned how to use online systems and been encouraged to work from home. In addition, the operation of call centers to help employees working from home has been extended during weekdays. All these efforts have helped employees focus on work at home without any difficulties or inconveniences.
Traffic for video conferences has surged due to COVID-19. The government has also taken the special temporary measure adding 3,500 licenses for simultaneous users.
Managing attendance and security principles for remote workers
Remote workers record the times that they begin and end work (before 9 am and after 6 pm, respectively) in a public servant personnel electronic system called e-Person. Unlike in the past when employees would fill out an employee attendance card or punch a time card machine, employees now log onto the system with their own accounts to record attendance. If workers save the times, they are automatically recorded on the server. This makes impossible for individuals to register a time on behalf of another person. Employee attendance can be managed in a more transparent and precise way. Vacations or leaving work early can be requested and dealt with by e-Person, which allows for strict oversight over work performance and attendance.
The biggest concern is data security. Work confidentiality must be maintained even in the absence of a defined space such as an office. Remote workers have abided by data security guidelines such as the ‘Work Management Guidelines for Public Servants in Tackling COVID19’ and ‘National Data Security Guidelines.’
▶ Install the latest security software on your PC or laptop.
▶ Save materials used during work in G Drive and delete them all from your PC.
▶ Security codes are set for confidential materials at the stage when they are created.
▶ Use remote work, avoid handling personal information and managing confidential documents.
▶ During remote work, avoid handling personal information and managing confi-dential documents.
▶ If you are inactive for a period of time, you will be automatically logged out and the screen will be locked.
TESTING TIME FOR RESILIENCE
The Korean government prepared various measures to support the sports sector against the COVID-19 pandemic. Many sports organizations put their seasons on hold or ended the season early. Basketball and volleyball season were being cancelled, while soccer and golf leagues postponed the opening of a new season.
Baseball, the most popular league in Korea, responded more carefully, monitoring the pandemic. The Korea Baseball Organization was to begin its regular season on March 28 under normal circumstances, but had to put its season on hold due to the spread of the coronavirus. As the daily increase of new cases fell to around 10 mid-April, the KBO started preparing the new season opening on May 5.
The KBO first prepared a comprehensive manual to prevent transmission of COVID-19 and shared with the athletes and league authorities. This manual included guidelines on 1) measuring temperature and using hand sanitizers when entering public areas such as the stadium, living quarters, locker rooms, etc., 2) minimizing contact while dining together by seating in a line facing one way, in a zig-zag line, or in smaller groups, 3) requiring mask wearing except during games or in training, and 4) minimizing contact among the athletes as well as other workers by separating the entry and exit routes. In addition, a system was prepared to test and put under quarantine if someone develops symptoms.
Prior to the season opening, KBO began practice games for a week from April 21 to 27. Each of the 10 teams played 4 games against one another. The total of 20 practice games were held without spectators, but were broadcasted on line.
The KBO plans to hold the season opening on May 5 without spectators, and closely monitor the daily increase of new cases to allow gradual admission of spectators. Understanding that continuing games with no spectators may shake the foundation of the baseball industry, the KBO decided to allow admission to about 20 to 25% of the total capacity of the stadium once the COVID-19 spread subsides, and to increase the number of admission step-by-step. The KBO also established clear principles to strictly regulate the viral transmission by 1) thoroughly disinfecting the stadium, 2) requiring spectators to wear a mask at all times, and 3) keeping a safe distance in queue.
The KBO cancelled the All-Star festivities originally scheduled for July, and reduced the scale of postseason semifinals from best-of-five to best-of-three series. The KBO has decided to maintain the number of games at 144 for each team, while reviewing an alternative plan to reduce the number if someone is to test positive during the season. As shown above, the Korean government and the sports industry are preparing step-by-step plans in close monitoring of the COVID-19 situation.
Support for small and medium enterprises
The Korean government also prepared measures to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) against the damage they faced in export. The global spread of COVID-19 led to cancellation of key exhibits*, and prevented Korean nationals from travelling, which resulted in various challenges for exporters.
In response, the government is working with export-related government agencies (Korea SMEs and Startups, KBIZ Korea Federation of SMEs and Korea International Trade Association) on hosting virtual consultations to support companies affected by the cancellation of exhibits and other promising SMEs in their expansion abroad.
The government is planning to hold the virtual consultations online for 400 SMEs meeting at least twice a month (total of 10 times) over the period of 4 months from April to July. The government plans to invite 30 to 40 buyers from abroad and 30 to 50 SMEs to each session and to effectively matching buyers to SMEs, and providing consultation and follow up measures.
More specifically, the support measures include 1) a virtual meeting system to support consultation for exporters and connecting them with buyers abroad, along with translation service provided by a trade-specialist, 2) distribution service to help SMEs ship samples abroad, and 3) an expert on exporting provides advisory services to assist the process after the meeting (e.g. contract signing, reselling through an online shopping mall, etc.)
The first virtual consultation meeting for export was held on April 23 at the Korea SMEs and Startups Agency and Korea International Trade Association. The first session was open to the top 5 promising companies for consumer goods, disinfection companies and K-beauty companies that lead the new Korean wave. A total of 22 buyers from 9 countries, including Suning, the largest on and offline retailer in China, Jindong, the second largest e-commerce company in China, and Interbat, the 5th largest pharmaceutical company in Indonesia, participated. These buyers were particularly interested in testing kits, anti-contamination clothing, and other goods related to the COVID-19 situation, and had a lively meeting with 50 Korean SMEs.
The Korean government hopes that these consultation meetings will offer a solution against difficulties the SMEs face in expanding and promoting their products abroad, and help regain vitality in export.
Promotion of local produce : drive-thru shop
There has been a campaign throughout the country to purchase local produce through drivethru stations. Supported by local governments, this supports local vendors of agricultural products who faced a huge drop in their sales because of the COVID-19 situation. It provides a win-win situation for both the vendors and local residents, as the vendors sell their products in this difficult time and consumers purchase local produce at a discounted price, all without the concern over COVID-19 transmission. Korea
Korea Forest Service operated a drive-thru for wild edible greens at a public parking lot from April 27 to 29 in Daejeon city. Because most of these produce that are in season from April to May are sold through local festivals, the COVID-19 pandemic and the cancellation of the festivals left the local businesses in a crisis. Against such situation, the Korea Forest Service decided to support local businesses through drive-thru stations that allow them to sell their produce while maintaining a safe social distance.
Seosan city in Chungnam province operated a drive-thru for local agricultural produce from March 25 to 27 to promote consumption of the eco-friendly produce, which could no longer be used in school lunches since schools were closed because of COVID-19, and strawberries that could no longer be exported. It was a local resident’s idea to hold such an event, and others helped promoting the event through social media. Local government agencies such as the Seosan city government, the local Office of Education and the Junior Chamber purchased large amounts of produce to help local farmers.
Goyang city in Gyeonggi province operated a drive-thru for eco-friendly agricultural products in March. The eco-friendly vegetables and mushrooms sold at the drive-thru were all sold out within an hour. Gimpo city put together a BBQ set with Korean Beef and vegetables at its drive-thru event.
Pohang city in Gyeongbuk province, located by the ocean, worked with the local fish farm association to prepare and sell raw fish dishes at an open square near the beach. Cars lined up even before the sales began, and everything was sold out very quickly. The sharp drop in fish price before this event recovered a certain amount, thereby providing economic relief to the local fishermen.
Social distancing in the transportation sector includes recommending the users to purchase tickets without face-to-face interactions, and installing additional ticketing machines to meet rising demand. In addition, when someone makes a reservation, the person is seated to the window seat to maximize the distance to other riders.
Near end March, Gyeonggi province installed ticketing machines for its residents returning to Korea and taking the bus to Gyeonggi province (6 totals with 3 machines at each terminal of Incheon Airport) to prevent spread of the virus. Users are given a bus ticket home after submitting the area of residence, time and seats, in addition to the resident registration number or the passport number to verify identity. If the user needs further transportation services to return home from a base point terminal, the system also provides the option to make reservations for additional transportation methods. It is expected to minimize human-to-human contact and therefore reduce possibility of transmission.
Korea Rail (KORAIL) minimized the possibility of seating two persons next to each other by seating everyone on window seats to meet the social distancing guidelines. Such actions will reduce the possibility of transmission by keeping a safe distance between users.
The Korean government has also implemented social distancing policies against religious activities. The government restricted religious group from meeting in person to eliminate possible mass infection, and instead recommended services be held online or as drive-in. Online services are where the religious service is held online through channels such as YouTube. The members of the congregation join the channel to listen to religious messages. Drive-in services are held when the members of the congregation stay parked in a parking lot and tune into the radio stations in their cars. To support virtual religious services, the government offered technical training via phone on how to record and send video clips and data services (in cooperation with the telecommunication network) to religious groups with less than 200 members. Also, to support drive-in services, the government temporarily allowed small power radio stations. Thanks to these efforts, many churches and other religious bodies held online and drive-in services on April 12, the Easter Sunday.
The government is also promoting policies to transmission and to keep a safe distance when dining at restaurants. Some of the local governments held campaigns for restaurants to keep a safe space between tables.
Pocheon city in Gyeonggi province began this campaign to keep a safe distance between tables in 200 restaurants near the residence of a confirmed patient. The local government handed out paper placemats to be placed appropriately to guide customers to sit while keeping a safe distance from others. This allowed customers to sit on one side of the table and to keep at least a 2-meter distance with other customers.
The Korean government implemented diverse set of social distancing policies to prevent further spread of COVID-19
May 3, 2020
Ministry of Economy and Finance. http:// english.moef.go.kr
National Election Commission. http:// www.nec.go.kr
Ministry of National Defense. http://www.mnd.go.kr
Military Manpower Administration http://www.mma.go.kr
Ministry of Health and Welfare. http://www.mohw.go.kr/eng
Korea Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. http://www.cdc.go.kr/cdc_eng
Ministry of Foreign Affairs. http://www.mofa.go.kr/eng
Ministry of Science and ICT http://www.msit.go.kr/english
Coronavirus Disease-19, Republic of Korea. http://ncov.mohw.go.kr/en
Ministry of the Interior and Safety. https://mois.go.kr/eng
National Law Information Center http://www.law.go.kr/LSW/eng
Ministry of Science and ICT https://www.msit.go.kr/english
Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. https://www.molit.go.kr/english
Ministry of SMEs and Startups https://www.mss.go.kr
Sejong Special Autonomous City https://www.sejong.go.kr
Jeju Special Self-governing Province www.jeju.go.kr
Integrated Disease and Health Management System http://www.gov.kr/portal/locgovNews/2024347? Mcode=10323&pageIndex=1172&hideurl=N
Seoul National University http:// www.snu.ac.kr
Jeollanamdo Office of Education http:// www.jne.go.kr
Daegu Metropolitan Office of Education http:// www.dge.go.kr
1 This excerpt is provided by courtesy of the Embassy of Republic of Korea in Romania
This Paper on “COVID-19, Testing Time for Resilience : In recovering from COVID-19: Korean experience” was prepared by the Development Finance Bureau at the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MOEF) in collaboration with the Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, the Ministry of SMEs and Startups and the Military Manpower Administration.