Here is the location of the quarantined teachers in Seoul, from an interview with the author of An English Teacher under Quarantine in South Korea:
We’re at the Human Resource Development Center, a government run facility outside Seoul just a bit in Seocho-dong, close to Nambu Bus Terminal. Here’s the link to the location:
Sunday night I was reading on a bus stopped at a traffic light, tuning out the radio, when I realized I'd heard, right after the chime indicating the top of the hour, the words '외국인 영어 강사,' or 'foreign English instructor' more than once. "What now?" I thought. The sound of the bus moving again soon drowned it out, but I caught that more teachers had been found to have swine influenza. Then I went home and found out that Brian had discovered the blog An English Teacher under Quarantine in South Korea; soon two others, Ruby Ramblings, and Sparkling Chaos with Brian Dear became known (with the writer of the latter now confirmed as being infected). Brian has an information-packed post here, as well as others here and here. More can be found at the Hub of Sparkle (here and here).
I had my own experience today with my employer asking me if I was sick or if I'd met with foreigners recently. If she had realized we'd be quarantined - and unable to work for some time - if the answer was yes, I wonder if she would have asked. Oh, and she noted that parents have called her asking if my co-worker or I were sick or not. The media seems to be doing its job well. My former employer actually owns a franchise of the institute that has shut down it's Seoul campuses for two weeks. I can't imagine she's too thrilled (though it's probably better than this).
It should be pointed out that this is not the first time swine have invaded Seoul. A November 2005 Chosun Ilbo article titled "Seoul Trembles at Wild Boar Invasion" begins:
The capital is under threat from an unlikely invasion after wild boars were sighted at several locations around the metropolitan area. Last month there were repeated sightings at the Sheraton Grande Walkerhill Hotel; now a den that is home to scores of the aggressive beasts has been discovered in Achasan.Not that these two invasions, or the media's treatment of them, are similar at all.
It does seem that the media (the English-language media at any rate) is not reporting about the forced isolation of foreigners who had been in contact with those infected. The opinion of people being quarantined is that it is only foreigners who were in contact with those who contracted swine flu who are being taken to quarantine facilities, but not Koreans, who are told to stay home. According to Brian Dear,
The Korean staff and our staff-instructors who were with our orientation the entire time, in close quarters are being quarantined in place. I know this from an email I received from my trainer. The trainer thought I'd be able to be the same (I emailed him before I was "caught") and he told me to simply stay in my apartment for a week and call my school boss or headquarters. Also the other people who were in daily contact with us are not here either. The most specific "proof" is simply that our orientation instructors aren't here, based on the email I received explaining that my instructor was "not leaving his apartment." I probably would rather be here. I think it's a much better situation since we aren't slipping through the cracks. More importantly, I realize that the danger of spreading the disease is very high. Of course, for the quarantine to work, it must be consistently applied.Standards to protect people - especially children - focusing on E-2 visa holders and not being consistently applied across the board? As if that would ever happen.** He also mentions that
some folks had no notice.. the CDC showed up at their doors at 4am in some cases and told them that they were "going for some tests" -- so a few people brought absolutely nothing with themThere have been numerous comments about Korean behavior like lack of hand washing and not covering mouths when coughing from people commenting that Koreans would be more likely to spread the flu. Perhaps they're overstating the point, but in a post last year I noted this global survey from ACNielson, where we're told that South Korean people are the world’s most vulnerable (52%) to cold.
People in South Korea seemed to be the sickest, suffering from most ailments and topping the global rankings for suffering from colds, indigestion, heartburn and toothaches.Hmmm. Perhaps kimchi doesn't stop colds after all. I'm sure it helps with the indigestion and heartburn, however.
My favorite quote from Ruby Ramblings?
The first thing the head adminstrator said when we arrived at the quarantine facility was that they have not tried a quarantine of this scale before, and that “Japan and America have both failed at containing the flu virus. We are going to prove that we will not fail, but succeed at this.”Well, that's one way to get back at Japan for the World Baseball Classic, and at America for embarrassing Korean nationalists with its actions in 1945 and 1950 (and for Ohno!). How will they succeed at containing the flu virus? According to this Joongang Ilbo article,
a spokesman at the Health Ministry said even if some of those [Chungdahm] branches continue operation, there are no legal grounds currently available to force them to close.Ah, I see. No 'excessively harsh measures' for members of the danil minjok who came into contact with infected persons - they get 'quarantined in place' at home - but foreigners who came into contact with infected persons can be rounded up with no warning or explanation at 4am and detained for an uncertain amount of time, and those with no indication that they've had any contact with infected persons can be told "not to interact and meet with any other foreigners for the unforeseeable future as they could be carriers of the disease."
“Unless a specific regional administrative unit sees an outbreak of the flu, it’s impossible to bring the branches under the law,” said the spokesman. “If we do so, we could face criticism from the public that we are taking excessively harsh measures.”
Considering I've been told in the last week that 'Koreans aren't catching the swine flu because they eat kimchi,' and considering the misunderstanding of the disease (helped along by the media) that it's a foreign virus, and considering the way this is playing on xenophobic attitudes that die hard, I can't help but see the similarity to the belief held by some a year ago that because of a misunderstanding of the science, media disinformation, xenophobia, and a belief that Koreans were 'special' (genetically) and therefore more susceptible, mad cow disease was going to ravage the Korean peninsula.
Oh well. It could be worse. In 1888 there were riots in Seoul because people believed foreigners "kidnapped children, killed them, and made a powder from their bodies that was used for photographic film."
Speaking of which, I've only got one picture left on my current roll of film, so I should finish this up.*** I really do hope things turn out well for those who are detained at the moment, and that these quarantines don't expand unreasonably.
*The title means nothing; I just liked the title of the 1790s weekly paper published by Thomas Spence that I came across while doing research (Pig's Meat. or Lessons for the Swinish Multitude).
**Perhaps now might be the time for Anti-English Spectrum to release some new comics about depraved foreign teachers (NSFW). May I suggest, in addition to the priapic teacher high on E clutching a fake degree and syringe full of AIDS-tainted blood chasing a group of elementary school girls, that we add a runny, pig-like nose? If drawn in a cute enough manner, the comics could probably be aimed at children and published in the Korea Herald, where they would go well with this article.
*** Just kidding. I use a digital camera these days.