Let’s leave politics asideThe Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) and city administrations of Pyeongtaek and Osan have revealed that the 65th confirmed patient was infected with Covid-19 at a rally at Gwanghwamun Square, downtown Seoul. The public associated the infection with the antigovernment protest organized by right-wing groups on Aug. 15.
But the patient turned out to be a member of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) that sponsored a separate rally on Aug. 15 near Gwanghwamun. It is not clear if the ambiguous posting was intentional or by mistake. But too many coincidences raise suspicion about partiality in disclosing patient details. The two cities are headed by mayors aligned to the ruling Democratic Party (DP).
In contrast, when Joo Ok-soon, an outspoken supporter of impeached President Park Geun-hye, tested positive for Covid-19, the district office of Eunpyeong-gu, Seoul, where she lives, posted her name and trajectory. Her case stood out as Seoul city had kept identities of other patients anonymous. The head of the district is also a DP member.
Kim Won-woong, president of the Heritage of Korean Independence (HKI), spoke at the National Assembly Communication Center, earlier in the week calling the founding president Syngman Rhee a “pro-Japanese figure.” He did not wear a face mask, a violation of the Seoul city order that mandates masks to be worn indoors at all times. It was on the day the National Assembly announced that the podium can be used only by those approved by the House speaker. But Kim had not sought approval and therefore should not have gone on the podium. The DP would not have kept silent if a conservative figure used the podium and made a speech without wearing a mask.
President Moon Jae-in reposted a pastor’s comment criticizing religious groups for congregating to “show off their power.” While chairing a secretariat meeting, Moon warned that freedom of religion, assembly and expression cannot be condoned if they cause serious harms to others. His comments were aimed at Rev. Jun Kwang-hoon of the Sarang Jeil Church who had led the antigovernment rally at Gwanghwamun.
The ruling front is attacking Jun and other antigovernment forces as if they are responsible for the second wave of outbreaks. The government refuses to accept its responsibility for hastily easing social distancing rules and encouraging dining out or spending by making Aug. 17 a temporary holiday.
Covid-19 seeps through the fissures in the society. Some even think about defying the quarantine orders just because they come from the government. Government policies and measures are losing public support because they have been unfair and inconsistent. Ideological bias must not get in the way of quarantine. Let’s leave politics aside when we fight this virus.