In Korea, the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed on the same day as in the United States, but after nearly three quarters of struggling with the disease, more than 215,000 people have died from the virus in the U.S. and only 433 in Korea (as of mid-October). The Koreans have refrained from using lockdowns, so hurtful to the economy. They introduced mass-scale testing, and “put” artificial intelligence on the phones in call centers.
South Korea has a remarkable ability to turn any idea into money. In nearly every country in the world, youths are forming bands and making their own music, but it is in the South that this was seen as a new market to be developed – as a result, boys- and girlsband “factories” were set up. The music called K-pop has conquered the continents from Mexico to Iran. The record label responsible for the industry’s biggest stars, the band BTS, is going public in Seoul in mid-October. Thanks to fans, it hopes for an all-time record for IPOs.
The same is true for TV series (k-drama), cosmetics (a new philosophy of skin beauty in Korean style), and even pickle-based cuisine. They are being successfully appreciated by the public, for whom such flavours are associated with spoiled food rather than nutritious food (exceptionally, this does not apply to Poles who are used to sauerkraut and pickles). Even the masks required as protection against the virus come with extra accessories like pendants, ornaments and neck lanyards.
Even if the Koreans are not the first to invent something, they do an excellent job of marketing it, and even a product they have adapted becomes the world’ first choice. This is a tremendous advantage of how business is done in this country.
Mobile version tests
The case is no different with the use of modern solutions on the battlefront that took everyone by surprise much of the time – the new coronavirus outbreak. In Korea, the first case was confirmed on the same day as in the United States, but after nearly three quarters of struggling with the disease, more than 215,000 people have died from the virus in the U.S. and only 433 in Korea (as of mid-October).
The Koreans have refrained from using lockdowns, so hurtful to the economy. They introduced mass-scale testing, and were among the first in the world to develop in-house testing, which greatly reduced the time it took to get results. People were tested at mobile sites that used to resemble highway toll booths. They even predicted that each month of fighting the virus would mean thousands of tons of excess, hard-to-degrade synthetic waste. Thus, the lab technician did not have to change their protective clothing each and every time. He would sit all the time separated from the potentially infected.
The system has proved its worth many times. There have been outbreaks of infection in Korea, but each time they would have been contained quite swiftly. Whether it was the worshippers of one or another Protestant church (such cults are very popular in South Korea for historical reasons) or the crowded open spaces of courier companies’ customer service centers in the middle of Seoul, the authorities were effective in identifying the sick. The disease transmission route has been successfully interrupted.
Artificial intelligence on the phone
Artificial intelligence has proved useful on this frontline. While we were wondering how to deal with the systemic deficiencies of the ProteGo application, a system called Hancom AI Check25 was developed in Korea. Artificial intelligence “was seated” behind the controls of the disease report centre hotline. The algorithm would relieve people of tedious and repetitive work, could handle thousands of calls at the same time, and would additionally predict, based on a simple questionnaire, whether it might be dealing with a person who would develop symptoms. Moreover, caller’s voice and behavioral analysis would further enable the system to assess their health condition.
Once the virus transmission in the country was quelled and foreigners or Koreans returning home became the major concern, Hancom AI Check25 would track all travellers and instantly contact them as soon as they arrived in the country. It collected data, filtered out the infected and through a partnership with Chinese voice recognition technology leader iFlytek, the algorithm was armed with multi-lingual functionality.
Further in the prevention stage, smart robots were deployed at airports to scan travellers’ faces and remind them to wear their masks correctly. The algorithm recognized whenever someone had their mask under their nose or on their chin. It was also able to take the temperature of a dozen people passing it on a brisk march and catch potentially feverish ones. The system proved successful and performed excellently. Once again, the Korean approach to business and innovation has worked out on a ground unknown so far.