In an interview with FRANCE 24, South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha discussed her country’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has earned plaudits from around the globe. With around 10,000 coronavirus cases and a little more than 200 deaths to date, South Korea has avoided the high level of fatalities seen in many other countries. However, Kang warned that some patients in South Korea who had been cured of Covid-19 have "tested positive" a few days later. She also confirmed that South Korea would send some 600,000 testing kits to the US.
South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said the number of Covid-19 cases had "stabilized" in her country. She said her government had "acted quickly and pre-emptively", explaining that robust testing and contact tracing had been key to stemming the pandemic and bringing it under control. She added that full transparency was also key.
Kang confirmed for the first time that South Korea would send some 600,000 testing kits to the US following a conversation between the presidents of both countries, adding that the contracts had been signed and the kits will be shipped "anytime soon".
Asked if she feared a second wave of the virus, she admitted that "(of) those fully cured and released, many of them have been found to test positive a few days after", stressing that the nature of the virus was still not fully known.
"We have many cases found among recent travelers that have come back to the country from overseas travel," Kang added. "This is a global challenge; it is not enough that we contain the disease inside the country; this is a challenge that we have to overcome together as a global community."
The South Korea foreign minister said her government’s philosophy had always been to "respect the people's right to freedom of movement", but added that travel restrictions had been put in place in order to avoid a second wave of the virus.
Kang said the idea of a mandatory lockdown would not be acceptable to South Koreans and that the country did not impose one even when there was an early outbreak of the virus in February. "The idea of a mandatory blockade would be contrary to our principle of openness," she explained.
She hailed the World Health Organization as "a very collaborative and very helpful partner" during the crisis, refusing to endorse US President Donald Trump's criticism of the organization.
Finally, turning to neighboring North Korea, she said the assertion that it has no cases of Covid-19 should be taken with a "grain of salt" and that her government was closely monitoring the situation. She said Seoul had offered cooperation on health to Pyongyang but had yet not received a positive response.