Wednesday, April 15, 2020

1963: Korea in the time of cholera

For my latest Korea Times article, I look at the reaction to the 1963 cholera epidemic in Korea. At that point there hadn't been an outbreak in 17 years, but luckily it involved a much less severe strain of the disease. One photo that didn't make it into the article: people lining up to get the vaccine, from the Korea Times, Sept. 25, 1963.

As well, this article is useful for a look at statistics related to Korea's cholera outbreaks since 1910. It's interesting that there were two massive outbreaks in the wake of the March First movement in 1919 and 1920, though I'd assume it was more related to the increase in travel and trade after World War I. Of course, that was also the year after the great flu pandemic of 1918.

I was also surprised to learn of the 2001 outbreak; I don't remember it at all, despite being here at the time. I should note, however, that I referred to the above-linked article despite some concerns, namely the author's quotation of a citation-free newspaper article (which also contained statistics that contradicted the author's own). That article portrays the US Military Government's reaction to the 1946 cholera outbreak in a manner so appalling as to raise doubts about its veracity. If you're going to write that US "Soldiers annihilated an entire village because the villagers had hidden a person with cholera in a wardrobe," you should probably cite a reliable source.

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