Where is our diplomacy?Koreans are being shunned in nearly half of the globe. As of Wednesday, 94 countries have banned or restricted the entries of people flying in from Korea due to the surge of coronavirus cases in the country. Koreans had been allowed in 189 nations out of 199 countries around the globe without a visa. It ranked third after Japan and Singapore as a visa-free nation.
But Koreans are no longer accepted across the world, with infected patients topping 6,000 — the largest outside China, the epicenter of the ongoing coronavirus. National dignity and pride have hit rock bottom because of slow and slack crisis management by the Moon Jae-in administration. Koreans may even soon be rejected by the United States, an important partner in security and trade.
Washington moved fast to advise its Americans against visiting Daegu after the first American citizen died from the Covid-19, the official name of the coronavirus, infection last month. All Koreans headed for the United States have their temperatures checked before leaving Korea. But fear in the United States is growing, and some are demanding an outright ban on the entry of all Koreans after the death tally in the United States reached 11 and confirmed cases of infection reached 158 as of Wednesday. U.S. President Donald Trump also mentioned that he may impose stronger actions on Korea, Japan and Italy.
If Korea is turned away by the United States, the ramifications would be huge. All others will likely follow suit. In that case, no governments will pay heed to pleas from Korea when it is shunned by its closest ally.
Businesses will lose connection with the United States, and students and expats may be isolated. Even diplomats would have to communicate solely through the internet or phones. Communication between Seoul and Washington could be further damaged.
The spread of Covid-19 must be contained first of all. The United States is a country that prizes facts and numbers. The reduced number of infection can help persuade Washington to keep its border open to Koreans. Seoul must convince the United States of Korea’s extraordinary situation and its capability in testing that has led to a greater number in confirmed patients.