Cooperation between the Korean private and public sectors
The cooperation between the Korean private and public sectors during the last two months has been instrumental in controlling the coronavirus COVID-19 spread.
As previous points, this collaboration hasn’t come for free or easy. On the Micro and SME (Small & Medium Enterprise) side, we have seen plenty of businesses closing their doors to keep people at home. Restaurants, bars, coffee shops and services in general have suffered substantial losses on their income.
Additionally, after April 13th, hotels and the whole tourism industry, including medical tourism facilitators like us, will take an extra punch. After the government put a halt to short term visas programs and temporarily removed the visa waiver treaties for 90 countries, the expectations for international customers went to the ground. All this has certainly hit the pockets of owners and employees, but still, the majority has complied with rules.
For big corporations is no different. Though they have more resources to weather the storm, the impact on their bottom line is notorious. Chaebols and new giants as Naver, Nexon or Kakao have taken measures to minimize the exposure of employees to possible COVID-19 infection, adding emergency funds to cover extra costs. Some can argue that the hardest impact goes into employees, and that might be correct. But then again, the point here is that no matter the sector, no matter the size, everyone has contributed to flatten the curve.
Public funds, private production: COVID-19 tests
When the coronavirus COVID-19 hit the news, before the outbreak in Daegu started, several biochemical Korean companies began to research and develop coronavirus COVID-19 detection tests.
Ahead of the expected demand, the Korean government went to negotiations with these local corporations. Their agreement included hundreds of thousands of detection tests. Till today, April 15th, we know that Korea has tested over 530,000 people. All the equipment, from disposables as gloves, swabs and medical shoes, to PCR-based tests, all of it is still being developed inside the country.
Aside from COVID-19 detection tests, the second most important item are masks. The massive and constant consumption of masks would have created chaos unless the authorities imposed restrictions on prices, amounts and distribution. Luckily, once the same authorities encouraged people to wear masks at all times, they also launched a system to buy them at specific points. According to their DOB, people could buy them once a week, two pieces per person. The price of each mask didn’t go beyond $1.50 USD, though NK95 masks are substantially more expensive in other countries. This was possible thanks to the agreements signed between public and private institutions.
Korea’s citizens, business and government common goal
The reciprocal trust has had a number of burdens. There will be more economical problems ahead. The next months might determine the outcome of many policies that will benefit or not business and people. There are a lot of uncertainties in front of us. For now, the only certainty is that Korean corporations, the local government and the citizens can collaborate with clear common goals. That’s the strength of this country.