Suffering Wangsimni After Coronavirus Outbreak
How the local community changed due to the spread of coronavirus
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The atmosphere around campus is very different compared to previous years. Wangsimni in March is usually crowded with people, but this year, it has stayed dormant as if the winter holiday has not yet ended, bringing a striking change in Wangsimni's scenery as well as in the lives of the local restaurant owners and student residents.
Normally, Wangsimni at this time would be buzzing from morning to night with new and old friends, social outings – and perhaps a few drinks. Another feature is the many events held by departments and student clubs at the beginning of school. However, due to the coronavirus outbreak, people have been refraining from going out and most events have been canceled.
"This March has been a hard time to run a business,” said a restaurant owner in Wangsimni. As the virus went viral, the restaurant's sales plunged sharply. The owner anchored his hope on the quick decline in the number of patients. "Where there is a will, there is a way,” said the owner. "I just hope that everything goes back to normal as quickly as possible.”
Students are also feeling the change. Choi Soo-jin (Department of Education, 2nd year), a Wangsimni resident said, "When my department held an event in early February, there were quite a lot of people enjoying their night in Wangsimni.” However, towards late February, she could see a drastic decrease in the floating population.
International students, on the other hand, viewed the situation differently. Liana Ivashynenko (Division of International Studies, 2nd year), who is an exchange student and was also in Seoul last summer, said that she could not see much difference. "One thing different is that people are all wearing masks,” said Ivanshynenko. Another foreign student, Zukhra Kamalova (Division of International Studies, Master's Program), said that she looks forward to the virus being contained soon and to finally see her new friends at school.
Meanwhile, some locals decided to voluntarily help their neighbors through the hard time, making for a heartwarming story. Tip of the Spear, a restaurant near the campus, has been featured in the media for holding a mask donation campaign. As the demand for KF masks has surged, vulnerable social groups had relatively less opportunity to buy the masks. Yun Hyuk-jin, the owner, made a donation box where people can donate their masks to the Seongdong-gu neighbors who are economically disadvantaged. The donors are offered a small order of roasted kimchi and pork in return for four donated masks.
"When I was young, there was a gold-collecting campaign to overcome Korea’s financial crisis,” recalled Yun. That is when he learned that changes come from small beginnings. Yun said that approximately 200 masks were donated by the members of Hanyang and the local community. He looks forward to seeing more people participate in the campaign. “This will reflect the warmth of the community that is cooperating to overcome the coronavirus outbreak,” said Yun.
Oh Kyu-jin email@example.com
Photos by Oh Kyu-jin
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