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Asia Minute

Asia Minute: Halloween Spooks South Korean Capital

AP Photo/Lee Jin-man
A man wearing protective gear disinfects on a street as a precaution against the coronavirus in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020.

On Oahu, everyone from the police chief to the mayor is asking people to be careful this Halloween, and not gather in crowds. That message is also being delivered in Asia — particularly in South Korea.


Halloween is not exactly a traditional Korean holiday. But in Seoul, it’s popular with foreigners and young people who like to go to clubs.

That’s worrying health officials in the South Korean capital who fear that celebrations could lead to a spike in cases of COVID-19 — especially since Halloween falls on a Saturday this year.

A spokesperson for the city government says special investigators will head to bars and clubs in Seoul to check on compliance with rules. That not only includes social distancing and mask wearing inside, but also the taking of names, addresses and phone numbers for possible contact tracing.

The JoonAng Daily reports some clubs don’t even plan to open — even though it’s usually one of the most profitable nights of the year.

Penalties for any violations will include a business shutdown for at least two weeks.

Last May, a cluster connected to several clubs in Seoul led to nearly 300 cases of the virus. The situation has also captured the attention of the U.S. military, which has declared the nightlife district of Itaewon off limits for Halloween night.

There’s concern in Tokyo as well, where the mayor of Shibuya Ward is asking people to stay away saying, “I would like you to refrain from being raucous.”

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