The Center for Critical Korean Studies and the Korea Law Center at University of California Irvine (“UCI”) and the American Law Center of the Korea University Law School (“KU”) present a webinar Law and Privacy in the New Normal: Long-Term COVID-19 Containment Strategy on June 29th, 2020 where experts will discuss the role of law and privacy in long-term COVID-19 containment strategies both in the US and Korea.
Korea is just about the only major country affected by COVID-19 that has neither closed its borders to any country nor has mandated general lockdowns. Korea found success instead by quickly re-activating Section 76-2 of the Infectious Disease Prevention Act legislated in 2015 in response to MERS. This Act allows comprehensive location tracking of patients, suspected patients, contactees, and suspected contactees. Implementation of this contact tracing law has been fully embraced by the public there. Even after the COVID-19 curve has been flattened, Korea continues to be proactive with its tracing policy in an effort to maintain its open-border, open-business policy. Korea has legislated a new rule that requires every club-goers and restaurant customers to electronically scan their QR codes.
The U.S. disease prevention law lacks such non-consensual, non-judicial location tracking of patients and contactees, probably due to the concerns of privacy. The utility of such law will be in question when infections continue to spread. However, as the U.S. re-opens businesses, the evaluation of Korean law from human rights and trans-constitutional perspectives is urgent. The U.S. can learn from both Korea's successes and mistakes.
Experts will discuss the role of law in Korea's containment strategy, and critically reflect on its success story, in the hope of making a contribution to the American legal community, which still faces rising COVID-19 cases.