Now that South Korea appears to be in control of its coronavirus epidemic, there has been much talk that the United States could emulate its success. Unlike China, South Korea is a democracy. His anti-coronavirus actions remained broadly within liberal parameters and did not spark too much constitutional debate on civil liberties during an epidemic. China can obviously be much more repressive and therefore should not be a model for anyone.
I am however skeptical that the United States can transplant South Korean Coronavirus Measurements for several reasons:
1. South Korea is much smaller:
South Korea has 52 million inhabitants. This is less than a sixth of the size of the American population. the the scale of the epidemic in the United States. will eclipse in absolute terms what South Korea has seen. This will require a much greater administrative and organizational effort than what was needed here. South Korea has a handful of large cities; the United States has dozens.
2. South Korea is centralized:
South Korea is one of the most centralized and presidential democracies in the world. There is a lot of debate in South Korean political science on the merits of this. It is to be feared that weak federalism and a powerful presidency are too unlike the elected monarchy in South Korea. But the flip side, of course, is that the weak checks and balances make rapid executive action possible. Once President Moon Jae In's administration realized how dangerous the crown was, the South Korean government intervened very quickly. With its traditions of federalism and checks and balances, the dispersed power structure of American politics makes it much more difficult for the United States as a whole to move as Korea did. from South. It's true that U.S. politics has become more nationalized and presidential over the decades, but it's not like the extreme centralism of South Korea, and U.S. President Donald Trump doesn't really use them. powers of the presidency in this crisis, for fear of its impact on the 2020 Election.
3. National health insurance:
South Korea has what the Americans call today Medicare for All or socialized medicine. This makes it much less stressful for people on low incomes to get the medical care they need and possibly leave work due to illness. It also guarantees that everyone was entitled to inexpensive corona testing once it was put in place. The South Koreans have even managed to create live test stations. This type of ease and quick access would be remarkably difficult in the United States given its Byzantine mosaic of insurance and private medical benefits. And indeed, we are already seeing this with all the confusion in the United States over where to go for testing and who will pay for it. If 40% of Americans are unable to collect just $ 400 for emergency expenses, this translates into a large number of people who will forgo corona tests due to the expense and fear that a positive diagnosis will entail additional costs.
4. More cohesion:
It's a milder variable, but after having lived in the United States most of my life, plus South Korea for almost twelve years, I'm pretty confident that Americans just wouldn't react with the social discipline that the South Koreans have shown. Watching nothing less than U.S. President Donald Trump continue to shake hands with people at his last press conference is a good illustration of how Americans will politely respond to the government by telling them what to do. Many Americans would view the role of governments in South Korea as overly authoritarian, such as intruding on privacy or the sanctity of religious communities. For example, once it was established that a South Korean church in Daegu was spreading the virus because it refused to follow protocols, the South Korean government intervened quickly to find its hundreds of thousands of members to test them all. There has been a backlash in the United States, while in South Korea people have asked that the church be prosecuted for spreading the virus. More generally, the South Koreans have a fairly strong sense of community that the government has been able to mobilize to carry out a collective action that I honestly doubt that the Americans could muster. The United States is much more fractured and controversial, plural and diverse. Civilian libertarians on the left and libertarians and gun enthusiasts, for example, oppose a national ID card and number in the United States. This is ubiquitous in Korea from the South and so facilitates monitoring and provision of services in the event of a national emergency.
5. Better leadership:
Finally, and it must be said, the leadership gap between the two countries is widening. Moon, like Trump, has strong ideological beliefs and faces an upcoming election. (Legislative elections in South Korea are next month.) But Moon has shown a much greater willingness to take Corona seriously and allow the experts to manage the response. There is nothing here like Trumps procrastinating in the past month, or his bizarre public announcements that this will soon go away or is under control. There is nothing more disturbing than the conspiracy theory so prevalent in the Trump media. South Korea lives right next to North Korea and China, but no one suggests here that it is a biological weapon of them. No one is suggesting that this is all right a big overreaction something like the flu.
Indeed, like someone who is live right now through what america will be over the next few months, i'm actually very concerned about the state of the corona speech on the Trumpist at my house. Corona is soon going to get worse in America, and the amount of misinformation and nonsense is quite unnerving.
Robert E. Kellyis Professor of International Relations in the Department of Political Science and Diplomacy at the National University of Pusan.
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