Sunday, May 24, 2009

American English teachers blogging about the quarantine experience in South Korea--thanks Brian and Roboseyo!

Update: Argh! Brian in Jeollonamdo posted this first: English teacher quarantined in Korea for swine flu has a blog!--sorry Brian.

Roboseyo just put a blog post, Ever wondered what it's like to be an American in quarantine for Swine Flu in Korea?, that is completely insane . . .
He links to a blog being written by an American English teacher in Korea who has been quarantined,

An English Teacher Under Quarantine in South Korea

I just read through the postings on the blog--oh my god.

From "Night One" . . .

More blurbs trickling in courtesy of

"What’s rather interesting is that it says nothing about the merry band of 50 or so US, Canadians, Australians, Koreans, etc., all in the Seocho-dong quarantine facility together where I’m writing this from."

The craziest post on the blog so far, US Embassy Fail, is about them calling the American Embassy . . .

So last night we called the U.S. Embassy just to inform them of the situation. We weren’t asking for help or anything, but just because we felt they should know that, I dunno…30+ OF THEIR CITIZENS ARE BEING DETAINED! It’s not like we’re worried the Korean Health Ministry of Medicine for Make Healthy of Koreans is going to take us out in the woods, shoot us in the back of the head, dump us in a pit and throw lye over our corpses, it’s just that a few of us felt better about our government knowing where we were, which I realize is an irony as I type it.

Anyways, the lady on the phone was very helpful!

Me: “Hiya! I just thought the Embassy should be aware that 30+ U.S citizens have been quarantined right outside Seoul for suspicion of swine flu exposure.”
Operator: “Okay, well it’s a weekend, and we’re closed. Monday’s memorial day, so could you call back on tuesday?”
Me: “You…you’re serious?”
Operator: “Is it an emergency? Cause if it is we have someone we can call.”
Me: “Um…let’s see, there’s 30 americans in quarantine for swine flu exposure. Basically, we’re arrested. It’s totally cool, don’t worry—we’ll call on tuesday—”
Operator: “Okay, thanks for calling.”
Me: “No wait—”

So here's my BILLION dollar question: What is going to happen this August 2009 for new foreign English teacher orientation sessions in Korea? Are they going to pack hundreds of newby foreign English teachers from America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and other places into the same hotel and orientation buildings? Are they going to put all of these foreign teachers into the same place in close proximity for an entire week?

All it will take is ONE PERSON INFECTED and EVERYONE there will be put into quarantine . . .

I seriously don't want to have this kind of conversation at my new job during the end of September and/or beginning of August . . .

From "Day Zero" on the blog An English Teacher Under Quarantine in South Korea,

Our school director: “Where are you?”
Me: “Moving in, why?”
Director: “Uh, I have some news, I will come by soon.”

***Five minutes later***

School Director arrives, nervous, coughing slightly. Asks us how we are and if we’re happy with the apartment. It’s bigger than our last school, much nicer, and the location is great. Yes, we’re very happy.

Director: “I have uh, some bad news for you. It seems at training, last week someone in your group is now positive for swine flu. So we must take you now, to hotel for tests. Ambulence is on the way.”
Me: ”How long are we going to be there?”
Director: “I don’t know, maybe few days? I’m not sure.”

If you want to send an email wishing the quarantined teachers good luck the blogger has left their gmail account address:

I'm going to send them an email right now.

Update: I forgot to link to the second blog. It's called Ruby Ramblings and A Fat Girl in Seoul (Korea, books, and calories) is friends with the writer of Ruby.

The excerpt below, Tales from the Crypt(ic land of no communication), is from Ruby Ramblings.

The worst part about all of this is how woefully misinformed the Korean public and officials seem to be about how dangerous H1N1 really is or how to handle the situation. I think the biggest problem with the virus is more that it spreads so quickly. Areas want to make sure to keep up with treatment supplies, not that it is necessarily deadly or untreatable. One of the teachers had already been sent to his placement in Busan, which is at least 4 hours by train. He arrived at midnight on Friday, and was woken up early Sat. morning by a woman wearing a facemask in an absolute panic who told him he “was infected with a very deadly disease” and that he must leave for Seoul immediatly. First of all, there is no proof that he was ever in contact with any of the sick people, and second of all, telling someone they are going to die is not a good way to deal with kind of situation.

He was then rushed by ambulance, with the siren on almost the whole way, from Busan to Incheon (where we are all being held), and told several times that he had a deadly disease. But of course when he got here they treated him like the rest of us: took his temperature, told him to wear a facemask when around other people, and, by the way, have a nice stay.

Here's the part that scares me, and I imagine Roboseyo too.

Today they declared that we all have “supresed symptoms of the virus.” They have absolutly no proof of that, a lot of the people here had no contact with the sick people, and may not have anything at all. Some of the folks aren’t even supposed to be here. There were a group of people that got to the hotel for NEXT week’s training, that got caught up and told by the school they had to go into quarantine as well, even though they had never met any of us. They were told by the nurses this morning that CDI was wrong, they hadn’t had exposure so there was no need for them to come, but now that they are here, they may have been exposed and can’t leave. Classic Korean misinformation. (my bold, my italics)

Brian and Roboseyo, wicked link--I mean that in EVERY POSSIBLE NUANCE OF THE WORD "wicked"!


1 comment:

Bangkok guy said...

US embassy is always a fail. They couldn't care less about US citizens. I have contacted them in different countries and always got the same bs. They are only good for getting a new passport or adding pages to an existing passport, simple stuff.
They are obviously not there to take care of Americans abroad.
If you find yourself in a situation where you really need the Embassy, then your toast. They won't even help someone get home after a terrible experience or violence etc.. UNLESS you are dead, then they will of course help send your corpse.