Back at work with one company now. It's a foreign bank. They were the first to introduce work-from-home policies. They were also the first to start back at work, although there are a lot fewer people in the office now. The big Korean companies continued as normal at first, but have now completely closed (to outsiders). Yonguk is still working seven days a week. Dora’s daycare is still on holiday. Yonguk drove me to work the first day. Before work, we had a quick lunch together at a Korean Japanese department store from the group that the Chinese shut down over THAAD. It was the only place where the carpark was empty as so many people are driving to work now. We ate at an American Chinese restaurant in the food court. I guess contextually it was showing our support for fair trade?
Yonguk driving me is not practical as he needs to work while watching Dora, so I took the subway on Thursday 5th March. The old women were back. One wasn’t wearing a mask. Normally, you get an odd religious nutcase who walks up and down the carriage shouting about Jesus. People look down and ignore them. Attitudes have changed. This time, the man wouldn’t even dare get on the train. He stood in the door and shouted at us. The whole carriage turned to stare at him in anger. People no longer stayed silent. There were furious mutterings. The man shouted, put one foot forward, then moved back, and shut up. From the platform he watched all of us people who he was sure would burn in hell.
Tuesday 10th March—I tried to buy masks. Expats are having difficulty. I am not really an 'expat', except in the sense that I regularly get asked when I'm going home, or am straight told to 'go back home'. As I pay national insurance like Koreans, I am limited to two per week with my residence card and certificate. I even received a message from the government reminding me that today is the day people of my birth year can buy masks. I thus dutifully went to a pharmacy. And, I was refused because I’m foreign. I pay the same taxes as Koreans. I pay the same contributions as Koreans. As a freelancer, I pay double what Korean workers with regular contracts pay. I’ve been here eight years. I’m also in a high risk group because I’m pregnant. But, no, no masks for me. (Thankfully I didn't cry. After we have finally booked tickets 'home', I've stopped crying every day. I'm just angry now.)
Thursday 12th March—we now face the risk of mass infections in Seoul—the subway is quiet and the old people have gone again.
Saturday 14th March—we stayed at home baking. We've been mostly staying at home binge watching Bake Off. Today we made Mary Berry's Charlotte Royale with blueberries. We also made a pumpkin soup. Pumpkins and blueberries are meant to be good for you. We stocked up on frozen fruit and vegetables and are trying to stay healthy by eating home cooked food. Plus cooking and baking are a good way to pass the time.
Sunday 15th March—we went with Yonguk to an office and a data centre just to get out of the house. We waited in the car outside, while he did what he needed to. We then went to buy masks. This time I was allowed to buy a mask for myself. However, because of
the racist horror show that what Korea is, I'm not listed as Dora's mother, so Yonguk had to come and show he was her father on the system for pure-blooded Koreans. Imagine foreign mothers or fathers being kept off birth certificates in Britain... (Read another article about a payout for hurt Asian feelings in the Guardian today. Asians never ask if they can take our photos. Security agents asking for a hijab to be removed is absolutely not the same as asking someone to take their top off. In any case, Mary Beard was asked to take her top off by security; she didn't get a big payout. We have to stop this gravy train of compensation and apologies for hurt Asian feelings in the west. A maximum of an apology to the person affected should be the most anyone expects. Although, I won’t hold my breath about Koreans or Chinese apologising for hurting the feelings of foreigners.)
We have finally decided to come home. I quit all my jobs. One company understood immediately, and sent me the documents I need to process my taxes before I leave. We’ll work together over what will happen with the company that has shut down this month. The company I've worked longest for were as usual a bit different. My polite message saying I quit apparently wasn’t clear enough. I had to say why I was still willing to work out my notice, since I’m pregnant. I said it would be rude not to. This also wasn’t good enough. I said, I am leaving Korea. This was enough. Another company I haven’t worked with for long, but who took over a long-term contract, were also efficient. The company we work for has shut down. The lady was angry with the Korean newspapers for sensationalising the situation. They also won’t be getting paid; it’s difficult for everyone. (They subsequently also forgot to pay last month's salary.) The newspapers are problematic. Trust in the media has fallen since the Coronavirus struck. Yonguk tells me the newspapers here were never very trustworthy to start with, and in fairness they're a mixed bag in the west.
Stories recently are that China and Iran are trying to blame America for Chinese Coronavirus. Another gem was that China is such an expert
in population repression at disaster management that it wants to set up its own Chinese WHO. The Western woke left who have been saying that we can’t call it Chinese Coronavirus have made a massive mistake. In not calling it “Chinese Coronavirus” all that is doing is enabling the Communist Party to blame America and not take responsibility. Remember, in Asia, 'they' are going to humiliate you and force you to bow down for writing a sign ‘they’ don’t like in their language, or for hurting the feelings of ‘the Chinese people’. And, since ‘the Chinese people’ require us to apologise to all Chinese people collectively, is there a logical reason why we can't call it Chinese coronavirus? We say Spanish flu without any intention of slighting the whole of Spain. I can see arguments against it, and perhaps it’s not ideal. But, it has to be called Chinese coronavirus.
This is a quote from a Korean perspective:
There is someone who benefited from Korean people’s lost pride. It is President Xi. As Korea is nearly devastated by Covid-19, Xi is likely to avoid political responsibility. Xi is already congratulating himself, saying China responded better than Korea. Some countries even claim that an entry ban should be put on Korea, not China. And the Shincheonji church is easy prey. Xi ordered a complete probe on all followers of the sect in China. There is a prediction that Korea can be used as a scapegoat. The price of subordination is harsh. If this is the communities sharing a common fate that President Moon Jae-in referred to, I refuse firmly.
If you replace 'Korea' with 'the world', it becomes: As the world is devastated by Covid 19, Xi avoids political responsibility. If you change it to Chinese coronavirus, it is Xi who must take responsibility for injuring the feelings of the Chinese people.
As for signs in foreign languages. There’s a bit of a kerfuffle about Koreans posting a notice in English banning foreigners from a festival in Daegu. Reddit has some funny comments about why on earth would you want to go to Daegu. However, bans on foreigners are not rare in Korea, and they are completely legal. The university I was going to do my PhD at sent an email banning foreigners from the international office. Imagine any university in Britain banning foreigners? It made my life easier because as a power play, the university made you go and wait on the floor outside of offices for the right person (Koreans have chairs inside) or go between several different offices. After we were banned, they had to do everything on the phone. However, the point is—Asians are demanding privileges in the west that do not apply in Asia. And again, Koreans are legally able to ban foreigners because there are no laws protecting us. No one is calling for the Korean president to apologise to foreigners. Yet, again, Asians in the west are upset that people are looking at them. As regards the last paragraph:
“Around Chinese people, there has always been a thing where people think they can say whatever they want in a way they don’t about other races, so you see all this stuff at the moment about all Chinese culture and people being dirty and barbaric, as if that’s fair game.”
Cheng was circumspect about why this might be but wanted to point out that he was as anxious about the virus as the next person. “Maybe it’s because we have a more submissive culture, we’re not very aggressive and don’t get into fights. Maybe we’re just stoic. At the moment, the risk [of catching the virus] seems very low. For a major outbreak, it doesn’t seem too bad. It’s not a disaster movie.”
In response to this, firstly Asians do not have a ‘submissive culture’, especially when it comes to demanding apologies from western companies and other countries. And secondly, when the Chinese Communist Party published new immigration regulations that would make it 'slightly easier for foreigners to get a permanent residence or green card', the comments of Chinese people on Chinese media and Twitter were deemed by CNBC unfit for publishing 'due to the offensive and racist language'.
Two that were deemed acceptable:
We really don't want you to live in China. China has not been an immigrant country since ancient times. We don't have racial discrimination. We just feel that our country has the right to say no
5000 years of Chinese civilization,,China has 1.4 billion people, I don't want China to be the second "France"#外国人永久居留管理条例 滚蛋
By not correctly calling this disease “Chinese Coronavirus”, we’re just giving Xi Jinping, the Chinese Communist Party, and now Iran and their Islamic extremists, ammunition to throw at white people and Americans, in order to maintain their power. What’s more, news is that China is now trying to withhold medicine from America, if we don’t use the language the Chinese Communist Party want. China is a bully. This is exactly why we shouldn’t let Huawei anywhere near our 5G; it's also precisely why we should be moving to permanently decrease reliance on China in all sectors of the economy.
I’m not saying that in 100 years we should be using this against China, or silencing journalists and academics who argue against politicians who manipulate history. The opposite. I’m saying we must call it Chinese coronavirus for now, just as we call it Spanish flu. This isn’t a matter of asian pride; this is about the Chinese endangering the lives and livelihoods of at one measure 95% more people by trying to cover up a disease to protect image. If being honest means offending ‘the feelings of the Chinese people’, so be it.
This is a link for more information on 'Hurting the Feelings of the Chinese People - The origins, first use, and logic of that peculiar Chinese foreign policy phrase.