South Korea’s COVID-19 Success: The Role of Advance Preparations

Ramon Pacheco Pardo, Jeong-ho Lee

South Korea has been successful in the containment and management of the spread of the first wave of COVID-19. An early surge in the number of cases in Daegu briefly made South Korea the country with the second largest number of cases back in February. Five months since news of the COVID-19 pandemic emerged from China in late December 2019, however, South Korea is widely seen as a model for dealing with this crisis. To a large extent, this is due to the country’s preparedness to deal with pandemics. Since the MERS outbreak of 2015, and also the MS Sewol ferry disaster one year earlier, the South Korean state has developed the necessary capacities to prepare for pandemics. This has involved setting up a clear emergency management and communication institutional setting, boosting the resilience of the healthcare system, and ensuring greater transparency and communication with the public.

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