What made South Korea’s COVID-19 response so successful?


Wednesday, December 2, 2020, 4:00pm to 5:00pm


Virtual event, registration required

With a population of 51 million people, South Korea is reporting just over 30,000 cases of COVID-19, making it a major success story in the fight against the pandemic. Yong-Kyun Kim MC/MPA '08, the director-general of South Korea’s National Disaster and Safety Control Center, will join Arnold Howitt, faculty co-director of the HKS Program on Crisis Leadership (PCL), to discuss the country’s overall response to COVID-19, its successes, and the challenges it has encountered.


This conversation is part of a year-long, virtual discussion series: Crisis Leadership in a Pandemic: Lessons Learned in the Fight Against COVID-19, sponsored by PCL and the Ash Center.


Dr. Kim earned his MC/MPA at Harvard Kennedy School and his Ph.D. from Yonsei University. He is the author of Disaster Characteristics of Korea and Its Management (2018) and co-author of Disaster Risk Management in the Republic of Korea (2017) and Disaster Management (2020).


Virtual Event Recording  

About the Crisis Leadership in a Pandemic: Lessons Learned in the Fight Against COVID-19 Series

Leaders across the world have been combatting the effects of COVID-19 for several months, gaining extensive, in-the-moment crisis management experience as they seek to grapple with an incredibly difficult set of challenges.  Through a year-long series of virtual conversations, the Ash Center’s Program on Crisis Leadership (PCL) at Harvard Kennedy School will engage with leaders from several different continents to learn how they and the communities they represent are responding to COVID-19, the challenges they have encountered, and the preliminary successes/failures they have experienced and observed. 

The series will explore both the similarities and differences of the response across jurisdictions. For instance, although the primary containment strategies – masks, social distancing, testing, and quarantine and isolation– remain generally the same, different regions have applied them in different ways and to different degrees. And while most jurisdictions share a primary focus on protecting the public’s health and mitigating the economic fallout from the virus, some face unique additional pressures, such as ongoing crises due to food insecurity, natural disasters, non-COVID disease outbreaks, and civil unrest.

By featuring leaders from North and South America, Europe, Asia and the Pacific, and Africa, PCL will provide students with a comparative perspective – and the opportunity to develop a nuanced understanding of the range of interventions and leadership approaches that have been employed to date in the battle against the pandemic.