Hello, welcome again to Driving in Korea. The videos where I just drive around Korea and talk about what’s happening here.

Welcome back. I am sure like the rest of the world you might be sitting in some type of self quarantine. Right now I’m just driving just to drive. I’ve been already in this quarantine for, I’m on my third week. I’m just in the car. I’m just doing apartment to car just to drive around a bit. We’ve been very cautious, but I thought I’d do this video, give an update of what’s happening in South Korea. How we dealt with it and are still dealing with it. It’s not gone away yet. And some, some maybe some bug bears I’ve had about how this has been covered and certain incidents, especially from people, my fellow Americans, some of their behavior and some European friends

Anyways, so the history of this goes is it started hitting Korea very slowly and mid-February and I was keeping track of it. And then we had the infamous Patient 31, who was a member of the cult section Shincheonji and she attended a funeral for the Shincheonji founder’ s brother. Now the founder of Shincheonji considers himself like most cult leaders, the Messiah, the second coming of Jesus. I don’t know how many second comings of Jesus we have, you’ve had in Korea.

I would wonder that, well, if your brother’s mortal, I guess you are too. Anyway, yeah. Might go into some religious rants in this one too. Put that years of Catholic school and academic Bible study to use.

But anyway so her attending the funeral made it explode down over in Daegu, which is in southeastern Korea, kind of middle southeastern Korea

And it’s spread there. We didn’t close down the borders immediately with China, but we eventually did, not sure, I mean, it was already out of the bag anyway. It was already in the country closing the borders. Wouldn’t have done anything. Well, no, it might’ve slowed down a little bit, but it’s like, it’s like trying to, it’s trying to hold water in your hands. You’re not going to keep it all in your hands. Eventually it’s going to drip out a bit. So it exploded and went through all the members of the sect. They interacted with other people in the public down in Daegu or some of them went back home because they traveled far away for this guy’s funeral and affected other people.

And the thing is, we all know is you don’t really show signs of this for a long time, and before you start showing symptoms, it is very contagious. So it just, it just spreads around and then it just exploded. And that’s when the numbers got really big. That’s when Korea started getting into the news and a lot of really negative press about Korea. Very inflated. I see a lot of, I would say Orientalism, which is a version of racism in the press of making Korea and China too, as this exotic other. And when you do that, you run into danger. Now Korea does this too Korea first does blame the Chinese for everything. Of course he did come from China, but by, I think wasted a lot of time by just putting all the blame on China, putting all the blame on the government, on the president in particular,

And I’ve seen this happen so many times in Korea is, is whenever there is an epidemic, whenever there’s a problem, like H1N1 spine flu, I mean swine flu, bird flu, things like that. I remember the swine flu epidemic, the swine flu thing, when it came to Korea 2008, first thing they did was quarantine foreigners. Not Koreans, foreigners, only foreigners. Well back when we did the SeoulPodcast, we actually interviewed some ESL teachers that were in quarantine and they’d all flown together with their Korean co-teachers, Korean coworkers, on the same airplane from outside Korea. When they landed inside Korea, they immediately, they quarantined the foreign staff, but let the Korean staff go home. Some… Supposedly Koreans magically can’t get the swine flu if they’ve been overseas. But that’s the thinking. And the trouble with this thinking, I saw this too with the Sewol, with all the other is there’s too much pointing. Looking for someone to blame that is not yourself. Because when you start pointing your fingers at others, you subconsciously, you shirk responsibility from yourself. So if you can blame foreigners, you can blame the president. You can blame a cult for all of this. Then, you know, my hands are clean. I don’t need to worry about anything because it’s their fault. I don’t have to take any personal responsibility when we’re all in this together.

Yes, they are to blame too. The president Moon Jae-in has some blame even though did very well in the response of my opinion. Shincheonji, of course, has a lots of blame in this,

But

Our attacks on them, made them go even further into hiding, which made it even harder to track them and find out where they were infecting people. It wasn’t that productive. And while at the same time, we’re not really doing our own responsibility. We were doing the mask thing. And this is the other problem I’ve had with Korea is, you know, we’ve heard of security theater at airports where people go through all the security, but it doesn’t really, it’s just for show. And we’re finding out now that now that they’re lifting bans on bottles, a hand sanitizer on airplanes, it shows that how much bullshit those that security theater wasn’t the first place. I mean, what, what suddenly hand sanitizer is safe to put on an airplane. Yeah, I know, but it’s security theater here too is people think that masks is the only thing that can keep you, is the one thing that can keep you safe. When in fact most of the masks people are wearing..

Are…The best they’re good for is preventing you from getting others infected if you’re already infected. They don’t prevent you from getting infected. Even an N95 mask, if not worn properly. Many people not wearing them properly, they’re wearing them so that their noses are exposed. They’re, they’re reusing them. They’re wearing the same one for for too long, makes them ineffective even if they were effective in the first place. So it was just security theater, and this is one bugaboo, but one thing I’ve really bugs me is when I was going out is I was wearing the mask. I had hand sanitizer with me, I’m washing my hands everywhere I go. And then when I go to use the men’s room, I’m the only one washing my hands. You see all these other guys with masks on, you know, doing their, their health theatre, they go pee and then just walk out. They don’t wash their hands or anything but they wear their masks, so they think they’re safe. And so when you’re, you’re pointing your fingers at others, you think you have no personal responsibility, you get, you have this what I call an adolescent sense of invincibility.

Now, what Korea is good at, and this is not my thinking, I’m stealing this from another Korea commentator who is well respected. Korea is not as good at strategic thinking as it is with tactical thinking. What I mean is this is,

Not so great at planning ahead for possible worst case scenarios. What we might call the last minute bballi bballi culture where, you know, why didn’t you think ahead about this? What everyone panicking to fix something at the last minute. It was like, why didn’t you think ahead? Why didn’t you plan ahead for this? I mean, from the smallest level. I mean, I’ve worked for so many organizations here where no one plans ahead for anything but really good at tactical thinking that after the thing happens, really good at fixing it. One example would be the, the 2018 Winter Olympics where Korea had over a decade to prepare for this. I mean it had been trying for so long to get these Winter Olympics and then it finally got it. So it’s been over a decade and preparing for this and built a whole rail line for this. Oh, I did sanitize before touching my nose. I’ve sanitized the car.

And then there was an issue with tickets with people who had actually foreigners who’d actually bought tickets to go to the Olympics. And then people from overseas when they bought the tickets for the trains to go see the Olympics they were getting kicked out of the seats because Koreans were buying those tickets for Lunar New Year. Which Lunar New Year was happening during the Olympics. No one thought that that was going to happen? No one planned for that to happen? So suddenly all the trains were taken up and you had all these Olympic goers who couldn’t go to the Olympics because all the trains were taken up for people going to visit their families during Lunar New Year. No one planned ahead for this. So there’s this little crisis on their hands. And then Team Korea got into gear and fixed it within two days and everything went smooth.

So again, Team Korea after, after the explosion in Daegu went into gear came up with all these isolation measures, all these procedures, I’m pretty sure Korea invented the whole drive-thru clinic thing, which I think is genius. All of these genius solutions are coming out of here. There’s another way because doctors are in–medical practitioners always having to wear these hazmat suits all the time. You know, they found a more efficient way for medical professionals to, to test people as they’ve come up with what looks like a bank teller window with gloves and little holes for gloves to poke through so they don’t have to be in full protection all the time to give tests. They look hilarious, but my God, what a genius solution those are. So we’ve had genius solutions. Our numbers have steadily been going down. We’ve been having more cluster–cluster fucks.

Ever since then we’ve had a few clusters. One has been from a call center in southwestern Seoul. I heard a rumor that the origin of this actually lived in my neighborhood. We’ve had a few people, not many i my neighborhood have gotten the virus. The neighborhood south of me has, which I’m driving through right now. A few–we just got messages this morning about the virus. Other things the government’s done is tracked everyone publicly. Now this is the difference between China and Korea. China’s not a democracy like Korea is, Korea is a democracy. Someone tell our surgeon general that. They lumped Korea and China together, South Korea and China together as authoritarian governments. Yeah, no, I think that that guy’s information is a little mixed. We’re a democracy here not nearly as authoritarian as China is. So, so please get that right. This, this is very much people who are always protesting in the streets. It’s a national pastime. You don’t see that in China.

So what we had was public cooperation and surveillance, public surveillance, public surveillance, which will raise hackles in Western thinking. Now China has private, has, has government secret surveillance. Korea is public surveillance. As in we know where all the people are. Everyone who has been tested and shows positive to go. There are all these between government and private organizations that all these maps showing where people went to, they’re going through and they’re sanitizing. They’re sterilizing these areas. We get text messages all the time.

9:00 AM woke up every, every morning, every morning, 9:00 AM I’ll just updates on what’s going on. We get text messages of where people, where infected people have been to. So we know not to go there. This has been very effective. The social distancing thing’s been very effective. All things have been, were canceled right away. School has been out for weeks, and they might announce it that they’re going to be out for two more weeks. That’ll be like five weeks of no school.

We’re being very cautious about this and the numbers have gone down. Yeah. Daegu really was most of the numbers, Seoul a city of 10 million people was only getting around nine new cases per day. So pretty good at coordinating and doing this. Now it’s not gone away. I’m starting to see right now people not as many people wearing masks as there were, which might be a good sign, but also might be a dangerous thing to do at this point. As I said, masks don’t prevent you from getting it but can help prevent you from spreading it. And I also wear my mask to keep other people’s minds at ease.

Especially having a face like this.

They don’t want to see me unmasked.

Mmm.

So it has really gone down. It’s really gone down. It’s, we’re under a hundred new cases a day. I don’t, I haven’t checked today’s numbers yet. We might’ve, we might’ve had another surge and that’s the other surge we had that we had this call center in Western Seoul. And people in that building got infected. That that gave us a little bump in the numbers. It might give us a still another bump ’cause we haven’t gone through the full incubation period yet. And then more church gatherings are causing it.

We’ve had a, a few of them. I’ve heard of one down in Songnam, which is south, southeastern suburb outside of Seoul, near Bundang.

Yeah, that’s been frustrating. Is the defiance of religious people from going, especially so-called Christians. And, and I’m trying to spread the I, you know, come on guys. You see so many people who don’t even know their own Bibles.

I don’t know. Matthew chapter five, verse five says you know, you’re a hypocrite if you feel you need to pray in public so others can see you. And then at the next one, verse six, it says, pray in thine own closet. Motherfucker. Well, not the last part, but that, that’s, I read the Samuel L. Jackson edition of the Bible. You know, it’s, it’s, it’s Jesus himself said in the New… Said right after the Beatitudes you know, you’re a hypocrite if you feel the need be seen in public praying, if you feel the need, if you need to go to church to show face that you’re being a hypocrite your relationship with, with God is private. It’s between you and God. God prefers you to play pray in a closet because that way your heart is pure and you’re not doing this for other reasons.

There are actually some episodes of The Good Place, which I love that show. It’s all about ethics where, yeah, we were you’re, you don’t really, you don’t really gain points to get into The Good Place if you know that you’re getting, if you’re getting the points for nefarious reasons too, if you’re, if you’re just doing, if you’re just doing nice things or if you’re just doing positive things just cause you think you’re going to get a reward that’s not ethical. There’s some episodes of the good place to deal with that. And so yeah. If some pastor, so-called pastor is telling you that you need to show up at church and a gathering I’d start questioning that pastor. You know, Jesus says so many times in the new Testament talking about Pharisees, charlatans, fakes

And tells you the signs that they’re a fake a Pharisee. And this is one of those signs.

This is a good sign that, that, that the person who was leading your church is a bit of a fake. And, and so if they’re telling you to go to church when, when it’s really reasonable to stay inside, especially if it is actually violating what Jesus himself said, you should do. Maybe do a little bit of soul searching and find another place of worship or go like me and be an atheist. So anyway, I don’t know where I’m driving to right now. I, this, I’ve just drove in a straight line and now I’m in some weird street next to a canal. So my complaint about the West is all the sensational cover. And of course, sensational coverage about this is humongous. But the xenophobic racist orientalist coverage, we’ve been saying I’ve seen it, I know of at least two articles that came out of frightened English teachers, frightened and then they seemed to be newbies or barely, I don’t know.

Easily spooked. This isn’t a machismo thing. This is just just people just being irrational as these articles of English teachers that, Oh my God. South Korea is so scary right now. There was one in Oklahoma about someone who showed up here for their dream job right now when you say dream job in South Korea teaching, you know, they’re lying to you in that article. Oh, they came to Seoul and they were so freaked out. They returned. So anyway, anyway, they pulled what we call a “midnight runner.” So they broke their contract and went home because they were scared and Seoul to go back to where to go back to America where you don’t even have any health insurance? I’d rather be Korea than to be in America right now. And in fact, my family was they were visiting America for two months and I was so worried about them being stuck there.

They got, they got back to Korea right before Delta started reducing the number of flights back to Seoul. So they got here just in time and I was so scared of what was going to happen, not if it went to America when it would go to America. What would happen because we actually have a good healthcare infrastructure in South Korea. It is not like Medicare for all, but pretty close. It’s a hybrid system. Everyone gets a base level of coverage and then you can also, you have upgrades. This is a good system. So it, it, you have a mixture of government and private insurance and it’s very efficient. You don’t wait in line. You don’t wait. You don’t, you’re not waiting forever. Don’t forget those stupid myths by people who don’t know what they’re talking about, who’ve never experienced this. You’re not waiting for to see a doctor hardly infected. It’s kind of, it’s, it’s faster than going to get an oil change at Jiffy Lube to go see a doctor here. And the medications are so cheap. They’re so cheap that my wife complains if any medicine costs more than $10,

It’s so efficient. The American health care system is just broken, broken, broken on so many levels. It’s not just insurance, it’s, it’s overly privatized hospitals. Too many middlemen. There’s something called this, this ledger thing that tells people, tells hospitals what they’re supposed to charge for all these things and they’re way overpriced. It’s, it’s about as bad as that guy in Chattanooga hoarding all the hand sanitizer and tissues. Except, except when you are a hospital, you can, I mean, people criticize that guy for hoarding everything and overcharging, but it’s okay for a hospital to be overcharging and being the only source people can have for healthcare within their insurance network if they even have insurance

I used to work for Blue Cross Blue Shield. You know what my job was at Blue Cross Blue Shield? Well after my initial job, one of my jobs was as a technical writer to write those scripts for the people on the phone to find all the loopholes of how they could deny you coverage.

Well, on the other hand there’s a time in college I was extremely poor and I was on Medicaid. Actually, my wife at the time was on Medicaid and they, the hospital administrators loved it that we, they’d breathe a sigh of relief that we’re on Medicaid because the government insurance had less red tape than the private insurance. It was much easier to process–go figure. And that’s like the biggest complaints people have against public healthcare is like, Oh my God, all the red tape the government has, no, no, no. I’ve been inside the big corporations, I’ve been inside. I’ve been inside insurance, medical insurance. I’ve been inside a defense contractor and, and Oh my God. And I’ve worked for the government. I worked for the governor of New York back when, as a Republican government governor the government job, the government was run way more smoothly with less bureaucracy and red tape than the private companies were.

I think, let me go this way anyway. Oh my God. I went, I’m going off on so many tangential rants, but the health care in Korea is top notch. That person who went back to Oklahoma. Sorry sweetie. You missed out. Korea is one of the safest places to be during this. Our, our death rates are extremely low. Why? Because we’ve been so aggressive in testing. Another part of what, another thing that we did right is we tested a lot and it’s free if you have the virus, if it’s, if you don’t have the virus, it’s just a hundred bucks. And so heavy testing. So we actually know the numbers. Another thing, transparency. We actually know what we’re dealing with, which relieves the fear. You know, transparency is light. We’re turning on the lights so we can see the monsters. We can see the rats, we can see the snakes. But if you’re in the dark and you’re surrounded by monsters, rats, and snakes, of course you’re going to be in fear. You go do something irrational like hoard toilet paper, which everyone, all of us in Asia are like saying, what the hell is wrong with your people hoarding toilet paper?

But again, you’re misdirect people are misdirected. People don’t, again, they’re looking at the wrong thing. Their fear, their emotion is taking control and they’re directing their overreaction at the wrong thing. Your overreaction should be no. Do social distancing. Wash your hands, thoroughly sanitize, you know

If you try, try to try to stay apart from people wear a mask just to protect others. Also think about others. Okay. If you’re young, if you get it, you know, you may not have to get the symptoms or you may get it, but care about that you might spread it to someone who is vulnerable. We might have a heart condition, might have been recovering from leukemia. It could be elderly. And also if you do survive, have you seen the pictures? Have you seen the descriptions of what happens to you if you’ve gone through this? Your lungs, many people, their lungs turn into honeycomb. Yeah, they survive, but they will not be able to breathe normally for the rest of their lives. They’re going to be acting like Walter White on the last bit of his lung cancer. Right before he died. You’re going to be like that for the rest of your life. Do you really want to risk that?

So right now health system here is great. I, I was kind of pissed about these articles coming about, you know, just painting Korea as has this scary place, orientalist, exotic, you know, Oh my God, what are they doing over there when it would have been nice if they balanced it with articles from those of us on the inside, like me saying on the ground realistically how things are, you can see how things are right now. It’s pretty busy right now. We are right now we did panic for a bit. You know, instant noodles started disappearing from the shelves, but it was restocked

A lot of restaurants are depending on delivery. And that’s good. Ways to support your restaurants, man. They are, some of them are doing delivery. My brother’s restaurant in Houston.

BOH Pasta, they’re doing delivery right now to survive buy give certificates.

Mmm

Yeah. My tour business is pretty much collapsed. But I, I have enough padding to hopefully weather this–oh boy.

Anyway it would be nice if the media would have accepted articles or interviewed some of us who are actually in Korea rather then some of the, I don’t want to use “hysterical” ’cause that has some gender baggage related to it, but really shrill coverage from panicked people who didn’t… Really should not have been taken seriously. But I’ve seen this before. I’ve seen this when, when North Korea acts up the news is more likely to cover people who are panicking than the people that have level heads. And usually the people are panicking here in the news are people who’ve barely even spent time in Korea, barely even been here and don’t even know how it really is. So that’s why I felt this need to make this video. I’ll give you an idea of what it’s really like in here. So any Americans, any people outside Korea especially in the West, I mean, not especially with anyone who’s going through this right now.

Recommendations from how we’ve dealt with it in South Korea. What you can do personally, first take personal responsibility. That’s the first thing to do.

I mean, I love how libertarians keep harping on about personal responsibility and then shirk it whenever you know personal responsibility is needed because you have risk person responsibility and social responsibility. If you’re not, if you’re not, if you’re not Mountain Man Jim living in the cabin in the woods, you do have social responsibility too.

There are people around us that we depend on. We are all interdependent and we need to take care of each other. But you take care of yourself first. I mean, it’s just like you know, they say they say in airplanes before you take off, you know, if the mask, when the masks pop down, put your own mask on before putting it on a child. Same thing too. Make sure that you’re okay and then take care of everyone, but take care of everyone.

Try to do what you can to support the small businesses if you can. As David Chang said, “Restaurants and other businesses or small businesses are too small to fail.”

I’m getting a little nervous about our personal economic situation. If we’ll see. We’ll see. I’m not there yet, but I’m planning ahead. Planning ahead. Keep track of what we’re doing. I mean, Dark Side of Seoul, we’re thinking of, we’re coming up with other ways of keeping the business going other than doing physical tours. So go on our Dark Side of Seoul Facebook page. Shawn is doing great. Live watch parties. They’re kind of fun. You just sit there and grab your popcorn and pizza and watch a horror movie together with other people in the chat room. That’s really fun.

We’re thinking of other things to do. We’re, putting together maybe a podcast, a Patreon to help keep us afloat if you’re interested. But I also want you to just note that what we’ve done here in South Korea, social distancing wash hands, sanitize. If you can wear a mask when you’re out in public just to protect, to protect others, protect and follow proper mask hygiene. Cover, then make sure the nose is covered. Also fuck your racism. Don’t blame Asians for this. Stupid shit like that. I just don’t. Incidents. I mean that’s the big bout of dumb right there is what, what one guy assaulted an Asian woman because she was wearing a mask and then another person assaulted another Asian person because they weren’t wearing a mask. This is not an excuse for your base tendencies. I mean, we have, we had, we had little bit of that in Korea at first as well. Mild I mean we’ve had some restaurants put up signs saying. “No foreigners.” Some friends of mine, we went to a barbecue restaurant at Majang Market and they drilled us about where we had been, you know, making sure that we didn’t come from out of the country or anything like that, even though I’m sure they weren’t drilling other Korean patrons the same way. They let us and we had a good time. Actually sat next to a group of real life gangsters. That was kinda cool.

“Joe, how do you know there were gangsters?”

Well, I don’t know many upper middle aged men with full… middle aged Korean men with full back tattoos. So I’m assuming they were gangsters. Safe assumption.

Love it. Love this country. We’re doing fine here.

Mmm.

Yeah. Really try to self quarantine as much as possible. Telecommute as much as you can, encourage your government… Just transparency, transparency. There are things that are outside of maybe people’s control or maybe just just contact your Congresspeople, your contract, your government. Because right now it looks like it’s the local governments that are left to fend for themselves, that the national government, the Federal government in America is not doing that much. It’s kind of laissez-faire. Trump just basically told the governors today that they’re on their own in getting equipment

Respirators.

Yeah. This is something to be concerned about. Yeah. Not something to panic about. It’s something to be concerned about. This is not some plot to make Trump lose the election. Which is the dumbest thing anyone can think of, you think, you think you know, China and Italy, they all, they all went into shutdown mode, to upset Trump’s election that Iran is doing mass burial sites to upset Trump’s election. That we’re going through this to upset Trump’s religion. This again just shows how much helps self absorbed America really is not aware of the rest of the world. And that’s also helped America get caught off guard by, this is so, so much looking at its belly button that it did not see the freight train that was coming their direction. Yeah. This is a conspiracy. This is something to really be concerned about but not panicked about. But yeah, reality Italy is preparing. Italy’s preparing to make hard, ethical decisions. They’re not making them yet, but some guidelines have had been proposed of giving doctors ethical decisions of who they have to turn away at the hospital and who to try to save. They’re not making those decisions yet, but they’re preparing for that case. They’re preparing. They’re talking. It’s wartime triage. If other countries are preparing for war time triage, this isn’t a time to be blase. If you’re going to be blase that and then it does happen. Don’t say you were caught by surprise. Please, please do us a favor and don’t be that dumb. Just be prepared.

Practice safe health. Be prepared for self quarantine. Three weeks. You can order food. You can order online even though they’re getting strange right now. But

Do what you can

Do what you can to stay at home and still support the economy. Thank goodness we do live in a time where you can, you can still be a part of the economy while at home. You couldn’t have done this 20 years ago, but now you can order most anything you need online.

You can do it.

You can do as much work as you can from online. If you can, if you’re a boss, you can. If there’s a way your employees can do things from home, come up with a system so that they can telecommute. We’re all in this together. This is a global economy. This is a local economy. What you do affects others. We don’t make money through magic lamps and genies it comes from other places. It comes from other people’s work. It comes from other people’s resources.

We work together. Let’s find ways that we can work together. Oh my goodness. I got a lot out of my system. I’m sure there’s a lot more I have to say, but for now I’m sure you’re really tired of hearing this guy talk, but this is kinda how it is in South Korea. We’re getting much, much better.

We’re almost, hopefully we’re almost safe. We’re not out of the woods yet. Not out of the woods. Now that Shincheonji has mostly been taken care of, now we’re seeing what it really is here.

Well what the base level is in the general public. Let’s hope it goes well, but it’s getting better and please people take note of what South Korea has done. Try to follow it. Transparency, an efficient, robust health system. Make sure people can go get tested. One of my friends, young friends, was in Korea. She’s now back in America. Her doctor is pretty sure she has the virus, but they won’t let her get tested because she hasn’t been overseas lately. This is the stupidity where people don’t know even know who is infected. The numbers are wrong in America right now and she doesn’t have insurance. So some getting tested. She’s not gonna. She won’t be able to afford it anyway and she’s not alone. Many people in America are that way because of that broken healthcare system. It’s much safer to be in Korea than in America right now. I’m really glad I’m here. Feels I feel really nervous about you guys.

Anyway really worried about everyone.

Yeah. I mean, this is not going to be an apocalypse, but the panic is causing a lot of problems too, but also don’t be blase about it. Be smart. Take the proper precautions. Don’t be an idiot. All right. Annyeong. Annyeonghi gyeseyo 안녕히계세.