The coronavirus rumor mill in South Korea is targeting the LGBT+ community.
Seoul – and the rest of the country – has been handling the COVID-19 outbreak remarkably well so far. But when the second wave hit, bringing at least 86 new cases, the local press began to speculate that the spread took off from the Itaewon district club community. According to the South Korean authorities, 78 of those new patients were men mostly aged 20-30.
The journalists and bloggers referred to these venues as “gay clubs.” But none of them label themselves that way.
Disturbingly enough, media outlets and online platforms began to share personal information about the suspected “patient zero” of the second outbreak, CNN reported on May 11th.
But the potential homophobic violence remains a subject of great concern for the government. On May 11th Yoon Tae-ho, a senior official at Seoul’s health ministry, announced that publishing personal information of confirmed patients or contributing to harmful rumors can be punished by criminal law.