If you haven’t been paying attention, you might have missed the coronavirus pandemic that looked a lot different in South Korea than it did everywhere else. For one thing, the country’s version of a shutdown hardly looks like what the rest of the world experienced.
While we were all holed up at home, many South Korean businesses, including restaurants, stayed open the entire time. Forget the lockdown, and let’s talk numbers.
For a small and densely populated country, reported cases reached only around 1,000 at their max. Compared to places like the US that are still struggling, this is truly impressive.
The key to an effective response was technology. So how did South Korea manage to pull it off? And what can we learn from them? Find out below.
Tech to the Rescue
We all know how tech-forward South Korea is. They were the first country to roll out 5G on a wide scale. Technology is everywhere and particularly in the government.
While we think of bureaucracies as slow and inefficient, Korea has digitized its admin work to make it simple for everybody to access government services online. This has likewise made it possible for the Korean government to leap into action to fight COVID.
The regional and central government had all the information people needed to know. There were SMS alerts, centralized platforms, a mask application for where you could purchase masks, online marketplaces, and more.
With easy online payments and effective transportation, there were little shortages as well. And farmers could sell stuff online, preventing wastage. Overall, the centralized tech response allowed for case numbers to trend downward consistently.
This is one of the biggest lessons for the pandemic. The technology is already there. You just have to begin integrating it into everything you do to start seeing its incredible benefits.
Building Trust through Privacy
Before you start worrying about Korea’s version of big brother, you’ll be pleased to know it’s quite the opposite. Korean society has long, deeply discussed privacy and data protection issues. There are laws on the books to protect citizens, and all major companies must also have chief privacy officers.
Koreans also use tools like VPNs to ensure that their online data remains safe. This means that at every level, people work together to promote their privacy and ensure their data never falls into the wrong hands.
While you can’t expect the governmental transformation to happen immediately in your country, you can surely put more focus on cybersecurity in your company.
Successful Public Healthcare
None of the above-mentioned achievements would have been possible if Korea didn’t have a modernized and publicly funded health system. Every citizen has access to high-quality healthcare without fear of high medical fees. The result is people can get tested and treated not just for COVID but any other disease.
Likewise, technology underwrites all of this. New telehealth apps and other devices have made it possible for Koreans in the most remote locations to receive care.
While you might not be fortunate enough to live somewhere with universal coverage, you can at least benefit from other tools, including telemedicine, that have now become available. Beyond healthcare, there are now remote solutions everywhere, so keep that in mind with whatever challenges come your way.
This is the final piece of the puzzle. Korean high internet penetration, a huge cadre of netizens, and connectivity ensure that people stay informed. It’s much harder to circulate fake news in a place where people have been trained for years to vet information in front of them.
Koreans are no stranger to controversy either. The current president, Moon Jae-in, stepped in after the former president was convicted of corruption. Koreans have had several corrupt leaders, but they let their voices be heard to ensure they can’t stick around.
Applying Technology Lessons Learnt from Korea
Although we’ve focused on the impact of technology on battling COVID-19, the same tools and strategies can be used throughout business and many other aspects of life. Koreans harness the power of connectivity, privacy, and open discussion to not only drive personal goals but improve their country.
Take these lessons to heart, and you’ll find they’ll pay off in ways you would have never imagined.