Sunday, 6 September 2009

Swine Flu Results in One Small Victory

Of course I'm not going to start praising Swine flu, or H1N1, but in the middle of all of the fear I did want to report one positive outcome. I suppose you hope the fallout from any war will result in something positive to make the suffering mean something.

When I came to South Korea, in the middle of the joy and perfection I found there was one problem: soap. For almost five months, my school almost never had soap in the bathrooms. There was soap in the lunch room, but not the bathrooms. Not just my school, but all schools seemed to feel the same way. The students simply didn't wash their hands. Which presented a problem for the foreign teacher- with students always wanting a hello and a handshake. This was the same issue for public bathrooms. I never left the house without my own hand sanitizer. I found this odd in a country where the biggest concern is personal health, which you can see in their healthy diets, motivation to exercise daily, and practically flawless system of health care.

However, since H1N1 became an issue I don't think I've gone anywhere without seeing soap. Once a bar runs out in my school bathrooms, a new one replaces it. Teachers have stocked up on hand sanitizer. I can dole out handshakes and high fives to my students with extra gusto. Dunkin Donuts now has an automatic hand sanitizer dispenser at the checkout counter. Even the bars I frequent, with bathrooms to rival American truck stops, have adopted the new soap policy. It's a delightful utopia of sanitation.

Now, now, I can say South Korea is perfect for me.


  1. YAY!!!!! :)

    Now you won't be looked at as strange for carrying around the bit of sanitizer. It is odd though that they wouldn't have soap in the bathrooms. Hmmm

  2. I love that you call the Swine Flu situation a "war." It certainly is that in this country. You'd think the military had been dispatched for hand-to-hand with any strains of the virus they see. Between foreign teachers getting fired for catching it and huge international festivals being cancelled altogether because of it, I'm starting to think maybe they're taking the whole Swine Flu thing a little TOO serious.

    But through it all--thank God for the hand sanitizer.

  3. The scary thing is that your age group is the one that doesn't handle the flu well, so I'm happy to know that you are living in a delightful utopia of sanitation.

    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure - imagine what five tons of prevention is worth??!!


  4. xD Instead of guns the military will now carry vats of sanitizer. NO BACTERIA IS TOO SMALL FOR THE MIGHTY ARMY!! GRRRRRRR

    Oh dear. I'm imagining Korean men in Ghostbuster gear *giggles*