The 100 Most Influential People of 2020
Ahn Young-joon—AP
By Moon Jae-in
September 22, 2020 9:34 PM EDT

South Korea’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has become a global example. Dr. Jung Eun-kyeong, commissioner of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), has led the nation’s antivirus efforts to success by candidly interacting with the public, based on the principles of openness, transparency and democracy.

When the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in Korea, Commissioner Jung stood before the people. Since then, she has personally held daily briefings to release transparent updates on the number of confirmed cases; the origins of their infections; and the latest figures on tests, quarantine and treatment. The public, in return, has exhibited the power of solidarity and cooperation by voluntarily following individual hygiene rules such as wearing face masks, washing hands frequently and observing social distancing.

As the first female chief of KDCA and also a preventive-­medicine specialist, Commissioner Jung has enhanced the organization’s preparedness. Six months before the COVID-19 outbreak, she helped create a manual on response procedures for unidentified mass infections, and conducted drills on a sophisticated emergency-­response algorithm.

Bernard Rieux in Albert Camus’ The Plague says, “The only way to fight the plague is with decency.” I believe Commissioner Jung’s decency and dedication are indeed a story worth ­telling—one that will serve as an inspiration for the many Commissioner Jungs around the world desperately fighting COVID-19, and for humanity as we advance toward the post-COVID-19 era.

Moon is the President of South Korea

Correction, Sept. 22, 2020

The original version of this story contained a misspelling of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). It is KDCA, not KCDA.

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