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Helpless diplomacy while S. Korean passengers are quarantined in China

Helpless diplomacy while S. Korean passengers are quarantined in China

Posted February. 26, 2020 07:35,   

Updated February. 26, 2020 07:35


The U.S. and China have enhanced their response towards South Korea in the wake of soaring confirmed cases with the Wuhan coronavirus in the nation. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised the travel alert for South Korea to the highest level on Monday (local time), and a local city in China isolated all passengers from South Korea for the first time on Tuesday. As the COVID-19 crisis is prolonged, the Moon Jae-in administration’s diplomatic power is on the chopping blocks along with quarantine and economic issues.

The U.S. agency has raised Monday its travel warning for South Korea to the highest level given the fast spread of the virus in the country. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends avoiding nonessential travel to South Korea,” the agency said in its warning.

Chinese airport authorities in Weihai, Shandong province quarantined all 167 passengers, which include 19 South Koreans took a Jeju Air flight from Incheon International Airport, at a hotel. They will be isolated for 14 days. “China is where Covid-19 originated, and cities and provinces within the country are implementing strict control measures,” Kim In-chul, a spokesman for Seoul’s Foreign Ministry, said in a briefing on Tuesday without expressing any regret. The Japanese Foreign Ministry also issued a Level 2 travel warning for Daegu and Cheongdo, North Gyeongsang Province. It is the first time that Japan has issued a warning regarding the latest coronavirus in South Korea.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a briefing on the government’s response to contain COVID-19 for diplomats in South Korea on Tuesday afternoon after multiple countries imposed an entry ban and travel restrictions on South Korea. “The government has been preoccupied with the nuclear issue in North Korea and is not using our national diplomatic capacity for where it is needed the most,” said a diplomatic source.

Na-Ri Shin journari@donga.com · Wan-Jun Yun zeitung@donga.com