South Korea After COVID-19

Seoul defeated the virus but finds itself mired in the same problems as before.

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For a brief moment in mid-February, the South Korean city of Daegu looked like it was heading the way of Wuhan, the Chinese megacity at the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. In two weeks, the number of detected cases in Daegu jumped from a handful to more than 6,000. (More than 1,200 of those cases were members of a single megachurch that had been sending missionaries to Wuhan.) This figure may seem quaint today, but at the time it made South Korea the only other country on China’s road to “viralgeddon.” Since mid-February, though, South Korea has become proof that the virus can be brought to heel without a cure, a vaccine or endless draconian quarantine measures. By April 6, new daily cases had dropped below 50, and they have stayed there. Just 230 South Koreans have died. Remarkably, the government was able to crush the curve without completely shutting down life inside the country. Office buildings, shopping malls and restaurants often remained open. Churches started resuming services by Easter. And, on Wednesday, close to 30 million people, nearly two-thirds of the country’s eligible voters, felt confident enough in the government’s containment measures to show up at the polls and […]

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Phillip Orchard
Phillip Orchard is an analyst at Geopolitical Futures. Prior to joining the company, Mr. Orchard spent nearly six years at Stratfor, working as an editor and writing about East Asian geopolitics. He’s spent more than six years abroad, primarily in Southeast Asia and Latin America, where he’s had formative, immersive experiences with the problems arising from mass political upheaval, civil conflict and human migration. Mr. Orchard holds a master’s degree in Security, Law and Diplomacy from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, where he focused on energy and national security, Chinese foreign policy, intelligence analysis, and institutional pathologies. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas. He speaks Spanish and some Thai and Lao.