I look at this from two perspectives. I’m British and I have lived in Korea for 14 years. I’m looking at how the pandemic has affected Korea and also how it’s affected the UK and other jurisdictions as well.
Covid came to Korea in January 2020. It was exactly the same day as it hit the US. The U.K. was a little bit later, from my recollection, and the initial spread was attributed to a church in the city of Daegu. The Korean government was prepared perhaps unlike the UK, for example. They were very quick to respond in terms of their public health measures. Social distancing came in very quickly. There was contact tracing. Every day we’d receive several text messages on our telephone telling us that a case of Covid had been identified in say a local convenience store and if we’d been in that store or close to that area, then you were advised to get a Covid test. They implemented that almost immediately. Also, a mandatory mask policy. Everybody was required to wear masks in public from day one. It was comprehensive and pretty immediate.
The effect was that the spread of Covid was very much controlled. There have only been about 150,000 cases so far in Korea, and it’s got a population of 50 million, and only 2,000 deaths. Significantly, there has been no lockdown.
In terms of being able to come into the country and leaving it, you still can. But there are strict quarantine measures, and it also impinges on other countries who may or may not have the ability to fly to Korea. Travel has been decimated across the world but there’s not been anything like that in Korea. People have been able to travel to the extent that they are able to do so.
The fact that Covid has been relatively controlled in Korea has meant that the working conditions have been relatively less affected than other jurisdictions. Korea is an export economy; it depends on other jurisdictions for selling their goods and purchasing components etc. But generally, it’s been less affected than other jurisdictions.