South Korea shows that democracies can succeed against the coronavirus

South Korea’s civil society has voluntarily pitched in. Major events have been canceled, church services have been moved online and the government has managed to persuade citizens to stay away from Daegu — where the majority of cases are — without turning the entire city into a prison.

Some of South Korea’s measures have been controversial. For example, people who are confirmed to have coronavirus are tracked by GPS, and a live map of their locations (without their names) is available for anyone wishing to avoid them. That may seem invasive, but it sure sounds better than having surveillance drones take people’s temperature and spray disinfectant everywhere, as officials are doing in several parts of China.

To stop the export of the virus, South Korea has implemented a three-step detection system at Incheon International Airport, with extra screening measures for passengers headed to the United States. Seoul wants to give other countries confidence they can keep doing business with South Korea and admitting South Koreans. Again, they are focusing on transparency and openness, not Beijing’s pattern of distortion and distraction.