Seoul Mayor vs. ‘MERS Doctor’ vs. Public Opinion

Ever since the first Korean patient was diagnosed with MERS, a number of news articles have covered MERS-related affairs. As it has been the case with previous high-profile public safety issues in the nation, on the Korean internet, another round of chaotic truth-seeking battle has been going on in the midst of sprawling public confusion, misinformation, rumors, conspiracy theories, distrust of authority, and politically-charged accusations. The following articles focus on the discord between the mayor of Seoul and a doctor who was diagnosed with MERS.

From YTN: [June 4, 2015]

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon Makes Emergency Announcement Regarding MERS


Please refer to the following article for the context.
South Korea: 1,500 should stay home because of MERS-infected doctor

Comments from Naver:

Ah…the mayor is better than the President…


I got goosebumps….. Regardless of whether it was politically calculated or not, he is a thousand times better than the idiotic government.


Wow, mayor. I got goosebumps. I can feel how much you are concerned about your citizens. I hope this turmoil passes by quickly.


Let’s gather our strength and overcome this together.


They are not making a movie, right????


Vote this up if you agree that Park Geun-hye should be impeached.


Seoul mayor is doing what the President is supposed to do.


What was the President doing while the mayor was making this statement?


I almost thought Park Won-soon was the President.


I write a comment here for the first time…. I guess this is why we vote….ㅠㅠ Thank you, Seoul mayor… I’m proud that I live in Seoul.

Soon after, the doctor at the center of the controversy actively refuted mayor Park’s remarks in interviews.

From Pressian: [June 5, 2015]

[Exclusive Interview] “Exposing 1,500 people to MERS? I’m not an idiot!”


Please refer to the following articles for context.
Seoul mayor’s ‘MERS politics’
‘I’m not an idiot’: MERS-hit doctor contradicts Seoul mayor’s story

Comments from Naver:


What matters is that the doctor didn’t get any quarantine notice from the Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Also, he didn’t even know that he was taking care of a patient who might have been infected with MERS. When he talked to the hospital about his concern about a MERS infection, they were dismissive. It seems Seoul city officials also didn’t get accurate information from the Disease Control Center. Some misinformation could’ve been delivered in that process. Although the doctor wasn’t aware of his infection, he still visited places with lots of people despite the possibility of his infection. It seems the Disease Control Center was the most wrong for not sharing accurate information.

pisz**** [Responding to above]

He was traveling when he had no symptoms. MERS is not infectious when there aren’t symptoms yet. Why do they keep going on about 1,500 people? If it is infectious even without symptoms, every citizen would have to be self-quarantined, idiots. Sigh, for real, kekekeke, do you not get it?

song**** [Responding to pink****]

Our public loses its balance and gets paranoid so easily…The most responsible ones are the media, of course. There are politicians and businessmen who try to take advantage of it, too. Doesn’t it seem like the whole nation will collapse because of MERS? Doesn’t it seem like MERS is the only thing that matters in the country now? Despite MERS, some people play baseball, travel abroad or go to school. Don’t you want to blame them? However, it is hard for a normal healthy person to get infected with MERS. Even if they get infected, they would never die. The people who died already had some serious diseases. It’s almost like the common flu. All the Koreans who died after getting infected with MERS this time were already in the hospital for serious diseases. Flu is more dangerous. For example, 2,000 Koreans die every year because of the flu. Ever since MERS was first discovered, only about 400 people throughout the world died because of it over the past several years. But people are making a huge fuss only about MERS.


Conclusion (facts): The doctor was diagnosed with MERS anyway. He went to the ‘L’ tower’s reconstruction meeting in Yangjae-dong. He went to a symposium at the hospital. He went home. He used his own car. What matters for us is not his personal integrity and honor as a doctor. We only care about the MERS patient’s traveling route. Park Won-soon didn’t intend to criticize the doctor personally. He criticized the government.

lalh**** [Responding to above]

Your propaganda is sick, keke. Are you brainless? He didn’t attend those meetings after he was diagnosed with MERS. He was diagnosed after attending them. It makes a huge difference if you change the sequence. Stop the propaganda.


If what the doctor said is true, the Disease Control Center gave shitty information. You should blame them. Park Won-soon might have thought it was a serious problem so he gave the announcement. Do not twist things.

qufg**** [Responding to above]

Stop being an apologist for mayor Park so much. He should’ve talked to the doctor first before making a hasty announcement. He tried to take advantage of the situation to gain popularity. It was wrong of him. Even if he is a politician you support, you should know when to criticize him.


What’s funny is that the doctor isn’t worried at all about the fact that he was traveling around while being unaware that he was a MERS patient. Mayor Park asked him to be self-quarantined to protect citizens before the weekend starts. When did he criticize the doctor personally?

awdf**** [Responding to above]

Infection and carrying the virus are totally different things. He showed the MERS symptoms from the 31st and that’s when it became infectious. Of course, mayor Park who wasn’t even aware of this made a huge mistake with his statement even without asking the doctor.

yuki**** [Responding to above]

Do you think there could be nobody who had a weak immune system or serious diseases among the 1,500 people? Is it wrong to take tight precautions? The situation got worse initially because people were too laid back. The doctor said he has rhinitis. How does he know for sure his then-symptoms were due to usual rhinitis but not MERS?! Whether mayor Park was taking advantage of this chance or not, he gave more assurance than the President who does nothing. You should think about how the national leader isn’t doing her job!


Since he wasn’t aware, he can say being blamed is unfair but it is an undeniable fact that he was traveling around after having contact with the patient who had MERS. How did he know his then-symptoms were due to his usual allergy but not MERS? Is it okay because he was just sitting in a corner at the meetings? It seems even sharing the same space can make you infected.

dlgu**** [Responding to above]

The point is that his wife didn’t get infected while the doctor still thought he only had his usual rhinitis. MERS is infectious only when the patient shows the symptoms. It was just his usual rhinitis symptom then indeed because his wife is okay.

ehcl**** [Responding to larr****]

If you don’t want to read an article properly, please do not make comments or vote up other comments! The doctor didn’t even directly treat the MERS patient.


“It is true that I attended the symposium in the morning on the 30th. However, I was sitting in a corner with nobody around me. I didn’t want to study on that day. (laugh)” I found it weird that he laughed. In a situation where he was on the receiving end of resentment and suspicion, how could he make a joke and laugh????

thin**** [Responding to above]

Why not? You judges of the Supreme Laughter Court….

last**** [Responding to mith****]

Man, you creepy psychos are so busy bashing doctors while never showing any gratitude to them who protect citizens’ lives. Do you hate them just because they belong to the upper class? What kind of uncivilized people treat their doctors like this? Is there any developed country that treats their doctors so poorly like in Korea where the doctors don’t even get paid properly while sacrificing themselves? Learn to be thankful. There are doctors who can’t even sleep at this moment to save people’s lives at the front line.


What’s strange is that the doctor shows a strong victim complex although mayor Park didn’t directly criticize him in his statement. Also, although they say MERS is not infectious during the latent period, did the doctor get infected from the patient with MERS in that period? It seems he is just making excuses to avoid responsibilities as a doctor in the interview.

migh**** [Responding to above]

You are trying to defend mayor Park too much. The mayor wrongfully said the doctor ignored his quarantine notice and traveled around. People said a lot of bad things about the doctor. Wouldn’t you feel wrongly attacked too?


So he attended those meetings after all. I’m not trying to defend mayor Park but it is true that he exposed more than a thousand people to danger. I don’t think mayor Park said the doctor was traveling even after he was diagnosed with MERS. The situation is dangerous enough. I don’t think it is right to question his political motive. I think it was very necessary. Isn’t it enough that he attended meetings with lots of people even when you could get infected from a patient on the same floor in the hospital?

cho4**** [Responding to above]

You fool, it is not infectious during the latent period…

toma**** [Responding to above]

What about the ambiguous transition between the latent and active periods? The government showed a passive attitude like you and see what happened!


The doctors’ claims don’t make sense. He said when he works too hard, his rhinitis symptoms get worse and he begins to cough. How did he know the symptoms he had on the 29th were due to his usual sickness but not MERS? Since he is so confident about the distinction, is he god?

wild**** [Responding to above]

Did you even read the whole article before writing the comment? He said he didn’t even think he could’ve been infected with MERS on the 29th so he thought it could only be his usual rhinitis. On the 30th, he learned that one of the patients [who was in contact with a MERS patient] he treated was quarantined due to a potential MERS infection. Then he quarantined himself and checked to see if he was infected. You have your own ideas completely different from what the article said. How come a comment like this gets so many up-votes? Do they only read comments here?

bers**** [Responding to exmd****]

I wouldn’t say he doesn’t make sense. It has to be judged with medical expertise. The Disease Control Center is supposed to take care of all this but they don’t communicate well. Even lawmakers or city officials don’t seem to know well.

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