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The Peninsula

Blind Spot in South Korea’s E-Governance

Published March 17, 2020
Author: Korea View
Category: South Korea

This briefing comes from Korea View, a weekly newsletter published by the Korea Economic Institute. Korea View aims to cover developments that reveal trends on the Korean Peninsula but receive little attention in the United States. If you would like to sign up, please find the online form here.

What Happened

Implications: The government’s growing reliance on digital platforms may marginalize senior citizens who lack digital fluency. Public health response to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak has elevated this issue to the forefront. Living up to its reputation as a country at the forefront of e-governance, the South Korean government is using various digital tools to fight the ongoing pandemic. Digital platforms have helped improve transparency and deliver more information to the public. However, the growth in information accessibility was uneven, almost exclusively favoring tech-savvy younger generations.

Context: While the government has been more transparent about developments regarding the ongoing coronavirus outbreak than in past public health crises, the gap in the amount of information that different generations are able to access is wider than during the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak in 2015. The 2019 National Statistics Report found that South Koreans over the age of 70 could only navigate 26% of the digital tools that an average Korean uses. This puts seniors who are most vulnerable to the coronavirus at a huge disadvantage. Older generations still rely mostly on national emergency text alerts, while younger generations are more flexible about consuming information from other digital sources.

Korea View was edited by Yong Kwon with the help of Gordon Henning, Soojin Hwang, Hyungim Jang, and Ingyeong Park.

Picture from user Bridget Coila in Flickr.

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