SOUTH KOREA - Law Requires Masks, Quarantines, and Contact Tracing

Arno Froese

The arresting officers came for the young man about a month after he was declared free of the coronavirus and discharged from the hospital.

His alleged crime: He lied to contact tracers. He said he didn’t have a job, when in fact, he had a side hustle teaching kids at a cram school and in private tutoring sessions. Several of his students and fellow teachers later tested positive for the virus, leading to allegations that the delay caused by his lie had the cascading effect of dozens being infected and thousands needing to be tested and quarantined.

Now, he sits in jail awaiting trial, accused of impeding epidemiological investigators. He faces up to two years in prison and has become a cautionary tale in a nation well-versed in vigilance and shame. His name has not been released as is typical for criminal cases in South Korea.

In addition to the digital surveillance, meticulous contact tracing and medical prowess that have made its coronavirus response the envy of the world, South Korea is also relying on the blunt letter of the law to fight the pandemic.

Governments around the world including Singapore, the United Kingdom and Australia have also turned to criminal prosecutions to enforce coronavirus-related restrictions. Some of the heightened policing has raised concern from human rights advocates, who caution that it’s a delicate balance between necessary measures to protect the public and infringing on citizens’ rights.

“Criminalizing the disease to set an example because it’s a crisis situation can be problematic,” said Seo Bo-kyeong, a medical anthropologist and professor at Seoul’s Yonsei University. “The aim of epidemiological investigations should be that people aren’t fearful of the consequences.”

In South Korea, those jailed include Lee Man-hee, the founder and messiah of a fringe Christian sect linked to thousands of infections in March, accused of impeding epidemiologists; a man in his 20s who lied about having been to an area with a cluster of cases in order to get a coronavirus test; a man in his 60s who repeatedly violated a mandatory 14-day quarantine after entering the country to go to a sauna., 30 August 2020

Arno's commentary

South Korea’s strict laws and enforcement have definitely paid dividends. According to Johns Hopkins University and Medicine, South Korea’s death rate per 100,000 stands at 0.71 (US is 59.45). 

Of course, Covid-19 will pass, but based on recent history, we can be assured that another pandemic will visit planet earth. Those countries that made proper preparations will be the winners; countries whose leaders publicly denounced medical science’s instructions have suffered the most.

For example, at the beginning, Sweden disregarded advice and instruction given by the World Health Organization, and paid a price: 57.4 deaths per 100,000 citizens. Sweden refused to close schools, restaurants, and most businesses. Today, they are at 8th place in the world, with 573 deaths per million in population. 

What is the future? Revelation 6:15-16 has this to say: “And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.” That will be judgment directly from God.

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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