Jung Eun-kyeong, the commissioner of Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), and director Bong Joon-ho have made it to U.S. weekly news magazine TIME’s 100 Most Influential People 2020. This year’s list features heavily people related to COVID-19, and Jung has been listed along with Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who is in charge of responding to the pandemic in the United States.
Jung joins the other 21 leaders including Commissioner Jung, U.S President Donald Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the 2020 leaders category. The South Korean was introduced by President Moon Jae-in for the list, which was also featured in TIME.
“When South Korea had the first confirmed case, she stood before the public on behalf of the government,” President Moon wrote. “Jung communicated openly with the public and successfully led the efforts to stop the spread of the virus, following the principles of openness, transparency and democracy.” He also said, “In “The Plague” by Albert Camus, Dr. Rieux says the only way to fight the plague is with decency, and the decency Jung has displayed inspires all the Jung Eun-kyeongs out there who are fighting COVID-19 and who have opened the post-coronavirus era.”
The South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said the message was written at the request of TIME. President Moon was the only incumbent president who introduced an inductee. “His message is meaningful in that it acknowledges South Korea has been held as a good example in the fight against the virus,” a source from the presidential office said.
Meanwhile, the presidential office faced criticism after it said Jung was the only Korean who made it to the list as it announced the news. Director Bong Joon-ho who has swept awards at numerous international film festivals was also listed.
“We received confirmation from TIME that Commissioner Jung was the only Korean on the list two days ago,” an official from the presidential office said in response. “There was no other way for us to check as TIME did not share the list. We learned that Director Bong was also listed only after TIME published the list. It is great news, and we would like to congratulate him.”