When you speak to people in the streets of South Korea about who first comes to mind when thinking about the country’s virus prevention system chances are you’ll generally get the same answer.

“Jeong Eun-kyeong”
“Who’s that lady the Commissioner?”
“Jeong Eun-kyeong”
“Can’t remember the name off the top of my head but the director (former title)”
“Jeong Eun-kyeong”

When COVID-19 first reached South Korea on January 20th, now Commissioner Jeong Eun-kyeong took charge and alerted the public.

“An imported case of the new coronavirus from Wuhan, China has been confirmed.”

Jeong put into place aggressive measures to tackle the virus such as extensive testing and contact tracing.
As a result, for a country which has a population that’s similar to Italy’s and with the capital Seoul being even denser than New York City the fight against the virus has been considered to be largely successful.
While addressing the public on a daily basis for the first few months of the pandemic Jeong showed composure and confidence, but her sleepless nights were all too apparent to a point where reporters asked about her health.
At one point, Jeong said that she sleeps for more than an hour as if that answer was going to ease the public’s concern.
But, recognition of her hard work hasn’t just been contained to within South Korea. From being named in Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People and BBC’s 100 Women of 2020, she has become a star.
In September, she became the first ever commissioner of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency and continues to lead the country’s fight.
Now Korea has been hit with a third wave, something which she predicted in April.

“The COVID-19 situation will have its ups and downs. A large wave may come in winter when it’s easier for a virus to survive and people will be indoors more.”

“The fight against the virus is anything but over. While it has been a dreadful year citizens’ trust and active participation in the battle against COVID-19 will still be required in the coming months.”
Kim Doyeon Arirang News.

Reporter : tkim@arirang.com

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