Reconceptualizing the urban space during the COVID-19 pandemic: People’s narratives and responses to the government social distancing guideline in South Korea

Authors: Hyejin Yoon*, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, Kelly H Huh, Department of Geography and Anthropology, Cal Poly Pomona
Topics: Asia, Urban Geography, Quantitative Methods
Keywords: COVID-19, South Korea, city, social distancing, inequality
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 6:25 AM / 7:40 AM
Room: Virtual 16
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


South Korea is one of the countries that have been affected by the outbreak of COVID-19 earlier than others. The South Korean government has shown quick responses to prevent the disease within the country by strict social distancing practice guidelines. Until recently, the government-led social distancing practices resulted in effective disease management in terms of the low death rate and the low infection rate. However, responses to the disease, such as strict social distancing practice reveal socio-economic inequality among various groups of people. Noticeably, socio-economically marginalized people. The government-led social distancing practice is based on smart city planning and utilizes information technology to manage spatial diffusion of the disease effectively using QR code. By doing so, some people cannot avoid limited access to information and public space (e.g., banning the use of shops). Also, politically and religiously different backgrounds among groups of people have deepened the cleavages of South Korean society vigorously. In our research, we would like to answer the following questions; how social distancing practices marginalize people and how South Korean people use the space and respond differently to negotiate between their wellbeing. lifestyles, work, and environment.

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