At 10:20 a.m., I heard a knock at my door. An officer in a HAZMAT suit gave me my test results (negative). She explained that two other people arrived in the group I tested in the establishment with undecided on the night. They had been immediately retested and we were waiting for their second results. Regardless of their final test results, the rest of us, who would have been tested negatively would still be able to leave soon. There were police officers guarding the bus that was supposed to transport foreigners to the quarantine centre. I showed them my yellow plate and my exemption certificate. During the hour and a half while I was on the empty bus and waiting for other passengers, I was called from the bus three or four times over an hour because my exemption certificate caused “chaos and confusion” in their strength. They kept asking me what it was where I had it, and what it meant until they ended up taking a picture.
Foreigners residing in Korea will quarantine themselves at their place of residence. The transfer from Incheon airport to your residence must be made by your private car or by a limousine bus or a specially designed KTX. But regardless of the effectiveness of a country`s response and its effects on its society, the burden of the virus is always felt at the individual level – people are affected in a unique way because of their living conditions. Despite the return to normalcy of Korean society, there are trade-offs in the resumption of daily life for the average citizen who does not have universal tests or vaccine. One area in which these compromises apply to people like me – an American citizen born and raised in Korea, from an international family – is travel. My parents, two siblings and I are spread across five different cities in four different countries. For most of my life to date, we have maintained our family unit by travelling as often as possible to each other, thanks to access to international travel in a globalized world. However, with new types of controls, such as travel bans and strict quarantine measures, travel seems scary and impossible in my father`s case. My siblings and my mother first met in Los Angeles, then they went to Korea in early March. My father has not been able to return home since January because he closed the border in the country where he lives.