Soon after South Korea identified its first positive COVID-19 case on January 21st, the number of infections surged in February. South Korea rapidly rolled out mass-testing, tracking of positive cases, and treatment of all patients, and has become the first major country outside of China to flatten the curve. South Korea has been able to achieve this without the drastic shut-down measures adopted by the US and many countries in the EU. The possibility of another wave of COVID-19 infection still remains, but South Korea’s public health response to COVID-19 has widely been considered successful. In this panel, we invite two distinguished speakers to discuss the public health responses pursued by South Korea, why it was successful, whether those measures could be applicable to other countries, and the challenges that still lie ahead.
Soonman Kwon is a professor and former dean of the School of Public Health at Seoul National University and holds visiting positions at the Harvard School of Public Health, London School of Economics, University of Toronto, Peking University, and the University of Bremen. He was the Chief of the Health Sector Group at the Asian Development Bank and is the founding director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Health System and Financing. He is a board member of Health Systems Global and has been a member of advisory committees to the WHO Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research, GAVI (Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunization), and the WHO Centre for Health and Development. He is currently the president of the Korean Health Economic Association and has served as president of the Korean Association of Schools of Public Health and the Korean Gerontological Society. He holds a PhD in health economics from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.
Sang-Hun Choe is the Seoul bureau chief for The New York Times, focusing on news on North and South Korea. He worked for The Associated Press for 11 years before joining The Times in 2005. He was the 2010-11 Koret Fellow in the Korea Program at Stanford University. He has won journalism awards for his reports on Korea and Myanmar, including a 2000 Pulitzer Prize. He is a co-author of two books on Korea and co-editor of another two, also on Korea.
Yong Suk Lee is the SK Center Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and Deputy Director of the Korea Program at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University. Lee’s main fields of research are in labor economics, technology and entrepreneurship, and urban economics. He will moderate the panel discussion.
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