What They Said is a regular series on the quotes Korea is talking about.
The “quarantine pass”
South Korea’s “Living with Covid” policy, referring to the phased recovery of daily life, has hit a snag with the number of confirmed Covid-19 patients on the rise and the emergence of the new Omicron variant. The government is attempting to contain the pandemic by once again implementing social distancing measures, starting on December 6, and announced that it will also be adopting the use of the “quarantine pass”, a covid pass system similar to that used in other countries, which will only allow people who can show proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test to access certain facilities and venues. Unfortunately, this measure has faced a strong backlash, as news stories continue to circulate about people who have died or been hospitalized after receiving vaccine shots and the vaccination rate has slowed.
A petition by a second-year high school student objecting to the quarantine pass (or vaccine pass) has gained huge support, receiving over 200,000 signatures, which is the minimum number needed to receive an answer from Cheong Wa Dae.
I am a second-year high school student, born in 2004 and living in Suseong-gu, Daegu. I signed an earlier petition against the vaccine pass, but unfortunately it didn’t get 200,000 signatures by the deadline. Therefore, I would like to strongly request the withdrawal of the vaccine pass expansion policy.
I was not happy about the introduction of the vaccine pass with the implementation of the “Living with Covid” policy, and personally, I have not even had one dose of vaccine due to my anxiety about the side effects. I don’t understand the government’s hurry to expand the application of the vaccine pass.
The first reason I object to the vaccine pass is because there are a lot of breakthrough infections. The exact purpose of a vaccine is to prevent people from contracting a certain disease. However, despite receiving vaccinations, there have been serious breakthrough cases, such as the collective breakthrough infection of the new army conscripts in Yeoncheon, and the collective breakthrough case of the sailors of the Korean Navy’s Cheonghae Unit. From this, you can conclude that getting the vaccine will not give you complete peace of mind.
The second reason I object to the vaccine pass is because it is a violation of human rights, which are fundamental rights. In the case of the Covid vaccines currently in circulation (AZ, Pfizer, Moderna, Janssen, etc.), deaths due to side effects from these vaccines have been steadily occurring, and hearing the news that people have died after receiving the vaccine makes my heart drop. If the side effects continue to result in severe illnesses or death, the public’s trust in the vaccine will naturally decline, and they will refuse to be vaccinated because they fear that they might die from it. Everyone only has one life, and when one dies after getting vaccinated, the state does not compensate for the death or even recognize it as related to the vaccine. When there are so many of these cases, shouldn’t we have the right to deny the vaccine? What is even more ridiculous is that the government is now concentrating on penalizing those who have not been vaccinated because of the fear of side effects or who are unable to get the vaccine because of medical conditions. It has flatly banned people from using public facilities, if they have not been jabbed with the vaccine that is full of side effects, and now it is trying to apply the vaccine pass to teenagers under the age of 18, and even to restaurants/cafés, which can affect people’s basic diets. This entire situation is pathetic. In conclusion, I think that the vaccine pass is nothing less than an unconstitutional policy that infringes on the daily living rights of unvaccinated people, and I believe these measures are the same as treating those who are not vaccinated as nonhuman (eventually forcing people to vaccinate).
The third reason for my objection to the vaccine pass is because a booster shot is required. When there are people suffering from the Covid vaccine’s side effects, from those who have barely recovered from the after-effects of the first or second doses, to those who have had to be treated in hospitals or have even died due to severe side effects from the shots, and the government announces a policy to treat those who have been fully vaccinated as unvaccinated after 6 months, I wonder if this is really the great K-prevention. Even among those who have been fully vaccinated, there are quite a number of people who do not like the vaccine pass. Yet the government is pressuring everyone to receive third and fourth doses under the name of booster shots. People who have suffered from the vaccine side effects, of course, will refuse the booster shots for fear of losing their one and only life. Is the government actually thinking at all?
The fourth and final reason for opposing the vaccine pass is because of the policy to charge even for the PCR testing. The current vaccine pass policy states that unvaccinated persons must bring a negative PCR confirmation to enter a public facility, but these confirmations are only valid for 48 hours (two days). This means that unvaccinated people will have to be tested every two days with swabs stuck up their nostrils in order to go about their daily lives without interruption? In addition, the government’s position to make people pay for these PCR tests is the same as forcing vaccination on people, as mentioned in the second reason.
Rather than asking people to receive booster shots, demanding vaccine passes for youths, and now trying to infringe on people’s eating habits by expanding the vaccine pass to restaurants/cafés, I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to put more effort into developing a safer and more proven vaccine and a proven treatment. In addition, since the “Living with Covid” policy went into effect, the self-employed, small business owners, and even sports facility operators have objected to the vaccine pass, saying that this measure is putting a damper on their businesses. Yet this government is solely focused on expanding the vaccine pass, only because the confirmed cases are increasing day by day, which makes me think this government is very incompetent. The implementation of the “Living with Covid” policy did not turn out to be effective, but rather ended up increasing breakthrough cases, with the number of confirmed cases rising to over 4,000 a day. At this point, I’m left to wonder whether perhaps we should return to the social distancing policies of the past instead of focusing on the vaccine pass.
I personally have no intention of subjecting myself to this dangerous vaccine until a safer and proven vaccine is available, and I am very disappointed in this Democratic Party administration, which is focused on expanding the quarantine pass and forcing vaccination on people at any cost. Whether it’s a vaccine pass or a quarantine pass, I wish you would stop. Because it is a human rights violation and an unconstitutional policy.
— Petitioner, November 26, 2021.
This petition has received criticism as well, with people arguing that there would be a far larger number of people dying of Covid and far stricter social distancing measures in place had fewer people been vaccinated. With fake news circulating about vaccine side effects and the media’s seemingly biased reporting on vaccine-related deaths and illnesses, which has been limited to simply relaying information from petitions to Cheong Wa Dae, with no actual investigative coverage, there seems to be an increasing number of people who are anxious about getting vaccinated.
It will be interesting to see how the Korean government responds to this petition.
The controversy over Professor Cho Dongyoun’s private life and her subsequent resignation from the election committee of the Democratic Party of Korea
Another piece of news that became the talk of the town recently involved Cho Dongyoun, an associate professor of military studies at Seo Kyeong University. On November 30, she was appointed the permanent co-chair of the election committee of the Democratic Party of Korea, serving for the Lee Jae-myung campaign. Mere hours later, an extreme right wing Youtube channel posted a video of suspicions about Cho, claiming that her second son had been conceived in an extramarital affair with a colleague. For several days afterward, the media recklessly reported on her personal life, even revealing information about her son, who is currently a minor. Cho stepped down from her post on December 2. Then things took a dramatic turn on December 5 when her lawyer, Yang Taejung, posted the following statement on Facebook:
I am Yang Taejung, an attorney representing Professor Cho Dongyoun.
First of all, Professor Cho has expressed her deepest apologies to the people who were hurt by this incident, including presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung, Chairman Song Young-gil, and the Democratic Party of Korea. She also expressed her regrets about not disclosing the story of her illegitimate child when she first met with National Assembly members Song Young-gil, Kim Byung-joo, and Lee Yong-bin regarding her appointment as the co-chairperson of the committee.
In August 2010, Professor Cho had an unwanted pregnancy due to a horrific sexual assault by a third party. However, she did not dare even to report the incident due to the insular culture of the military, the social atmosphere, and an illness in her family. At that time, her marriage was in a state of de facto collapse, and with the religious belief that she could not kill the life in her belly, she gave birth to her child with the intention of taking responsibility for what happened to her. Professor Cho received no compensation or apology from the perpetrator after the aforementioned sexual assault, but she is currently doing her best to care for and raise her children with love.
After her divorce was finalized, Professor Cho Dong-yeon met her current spouse. She disclosed the above information to her spouse and his parents. They were very understanding and offered her sincere consolation. Through their efforts, Professor Cho now has a happy family with her current spouse and children.
Professor Cho’s children have absolutely nothing to do with Cha Young-koo, the former head of policy at the Ministry of Defense, who is being mentioned in the media. Former policy chief Cha Young-koo, who is also suffering from this false information, expressed his intention to take legal action as soon as possible, including filing a criminal complaint against the Garo Sero Institute.
The identity of Professor Cho’s young son has been leaked due to reckless doxxing and speculative reporting, and, as a result, he has been stigmatized as a child born out of wedlock to his classmates and also to many others. He will continue to be subjected to gossip and scorn in the future. This is serious child abuse and irreversible violence.
Professor Cho was sexually assaulted, which led to an unwanted pregnancy, but she is taking responsibility for the life that resulted from it. Professor Cho’s young children and family are not at fault, so I earnestly ask you to stop reporting on and criticizing them.
I would like to take this opportunity to once again deeply apologize to everyone who was hurt by this incident.
— Yang Taejung, lawyer, December 5, 2021.
The controversial Garo Sero Institute continues to claim that Cho is lying, but many political commentators have now withdrawn their criticisms of Cho and her personal life. Despite her lawyer’s plea to stop reporting on Cho and her family and criticizing her, the Garo Sero Institute has stated its intention to carry on and report anything it finds out about the sexual assault incident and the perpetrator.
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