Traveling to South Korea During Covid-19

What its like to live in a country credited for dealing with Covid-19 properly


Once a busy lounge in Incheon, now empty due to Covid-19

Andy Chung, Reporter

South Korea’s way of dealing with Covid-19 starts from the international arrival at the airport

I had the pleasure of traveling to South Korea for three weeks during Covid-19. South Korea’s way of handling Covid-19 is very different from America. As soon as I landed at Incheon international airport, I was required to sign multiple waivers acknowledging my compliance with the local rules and following strict quarantine. Even before getting to the customs, I was stopped and asked to download an app run by the government which tracks your daily health and location. After all those long lines and waivers signed, I was able to go outside. But the story doesn’t end there. To get to my house, I needed to ride a special taxi which was fitted with covering and other necessary precautions installed.

If you live far away from the airport, the cost of a taxi alone can be very expensive. To save some money, having a family member or friend come pick you up from the airport is the best option. After arriving home, I was able to set my bags down and take off my mask which I had on the entire flight. The feeling of taking off my mask after 16 hours is something that I won’t forget.
The next morning, I had to self diagnose myself by checking my temperature and filling out documents indicating my current health. This process was required twice a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. This routine was very annoying and hard to get adjusted at first but after a few days, I got used to it. Not being able to leave the house, I had to order all the food and necessary items. The process of ordering things online was much easier than I expected it.

On the second day, I had to get tested for Covid-19 at a designated location. Getting my nose swabbed was pretty painful but worth it. After getting tested, I had to go straight back to my house and continue self-quarantining. Having to stay indoors all day and not be able to go out and enjoy the beautiful day was painful and rigorous. After several days, I felt like my mental health was getting worse and my anxiety started to get worse. The feeling of being stuck in a jail cell is one of the most awful things that I had experienced in my life.
At the same time, I still had school and the time difference made my experience much harder than I expected it. Having to go to sleep during the morning in Korea was very hard as I couldn’t fall asleep. I was running on two to three hours of sleep during school and by the time it was lunch, I was taking naps and breaks. Keeping up with school work was pretty hard as well. Having to do school work while friends back home are going to sleep was a bizarre experience. But as time passed by, I was able to adjust to the time difference and my experience with school was much better than before.

After my quarantine ended, I was able to leave my house, which was the best feeling in the world. I quickly realized the number of people that were wearing a proper mask when it wasn’t really necessary. South Korea is one of the countries that are dealing with Covid-19 very well and I finally understood how and why the country was so successful in flattening the curve. This was a once in a lifetime experience and this trip will always be in my memories.