Saturday, December 31, 2022

what will it be like tonight?

Although I think that, overall, South Korea handled the pandemic about as well as it could, the government still eroded basic freedoms here, like the freedom of assembly. It used to be that, on New Year's Eve, a crowd would gather to watch a sound-and-light show at the Lotte World Tower. There'd be a final countdown to midnight, and then a massive burst of fireworks launched directly off the tower to ring in the new year. Since the pandemic, though, crowds have not been allowed to gather at the tower, and the once-spectacular display has been reduced to a lame, flickering light show. 

But what will it be like this year? 

Pandemic restrictions have been slightly loosening; a lot of the old social-distancing signs have disappeared. Will a crowd be allowed to gather at the tower this year, and will the full-on display of light, sound, and fireworks return?

Or will this be yet another lame pandemic year? Korea has had a chance to make a brave statement of defiance during this crisis, but it's chosen not to, which is a shame. Koreans have proven, in the past, that they're capable of great bravery and mass action, as when they demonstrated en masse against Park Geun-hye. But with the arrival of the virus, the population here has become timid and cowardly. A recent survey showed that 44% of Koreans would keep wearing masks even if the mask mandate were dropped. That's just nuts.

And if so much of the population remains in the grip of superstitious fear, my hopes aren't high that we'll be seeing an awesome New Year's spectacle tonight. 

Korea, please prove me wrong.

1 comment:

John Mac said...

Mask use in my neck of the woods has fallen dramatically, in large part, I suppose because it is no longer mandatory, even at the malls, grocery stores, and on public transportation. These days when I see someone wearing a mask outdoors, I think to myself, "thanks for self-identifying as stupid." I know that's harsh, and of course, I never express those feelings outwardly, but it's the way I feel.

The one group I observe most frequently on the streets fully masked are young people--I'm talking high school age. I feel sorry for them. They've apparently been indoctrinated to the point where they can no longer think for themselves.

I guess I shouldn't waste my time worrying about a future I likely won't live to see, but still...