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February News Briefs

Coronavirus kills Chinese whistleblower doctor

Wuhan coronavirus outbreak is an ongoing viral epidemic that primarily affects mainland China, along with infected cases found in 27 countries and territories. So far, more than 31,500 cases have been confirmed, and the number of virus-related deaths continued to rise to over 600. In the midst of exponential growth of infected cases and death polls, a Wuhan doctor who attempted to warn the public about a potential new coronavirus outbreak died of the virus on the morning of Feb. 7.

Li Wenliang, 34, worked as a doctor at the Wuhan Central Hospital, and is widely considered as a hero after it was known that he was targeted by police and the Chinese Communist Party for spreading “rumors” while he was sharing correct information to raise the alarm before the virus spread worldwide. In late December, he noticed seven cases of a virus that were similar to SARS which also led to a worldwide epidemic in 2003. Immediately after his death, social media, especially in China has been filled with anger. BBC wrote that it is hard to recall an event in recent years that has triggered so much grief, rage, and mistrust against the government. Hashtags such as “Wuhan government owes Dr. Li Wenliang and apology,” and “We want the freedom of speech” trended on the platform that Wenliang shared his story.

The best hope would be to make cautious and safe responses to this outbreak and that it will become a part of our past memory in the close future.

Parasite becomes the first non-English movie to win Academy’s best picture

The 92 years of Oscar history was broken with Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, the first movie not in the English Language to win the Academy Award for best picture. The nominations for 2020 best picture was a stiff competition, including Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,” Todd Philip’s “Joker,” and Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman.” Parasite, which already won three Academy Awards, best director, original screenplay, and international feature, managed to pull off the final win out of its six nominations. Not only was it the first Oscar for South Korea’s film industry, but it is also a moment that will be remembered for many years for shattering Hollywood’s film industry.

On January 6, Parasite received Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and Bong said during his award acceptance speech, “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced so many more amazing films.” This was targeted toward Hollywood’s local characteristic of having a gigantic market, but a weak side in foreign language films, where the majority of them are only publicized in a minimal number of theatres, or only as special features in film festivals. However, the public reacted to Bong’s words as if the statement was from a whistleblower. Then, on Feb. 10, on the night of the Academy Awards, Bong said with a bit of humor that maybe the boundaries were already broken and that he just didn’t notice it, to thank the Academy for giving him the prestigious awards.

The significance of Parasite lies in that the traditional expectations were thrown out the window, and in a post-“Parasite” world, the best picture film could be produced from anywhere.

Sudden increase of COVID-19 in Korea alarms people

As of Feb. 20, 104 infected cases of the novel coronavirus outbreak have been confirmed in South Korea. In just four days, 50 or more people were infected, and as a series of events and schools have delayed any of gathering in a crowded place, this sudden spike has increased worries about this current outbreak of an epidemic. The 31st case in Korea, who spread the virus to 52 other people, is a 61-year-old Korean woman who landed in Jeju Island from a cruise ship and resides in Daegu. She was hospitalized in Daegu after a car crash, and although she was suspected with symptoms of the virus and was recommended by doctors for a check-up, she refused three times excusing herself just because she did not travel abroad, met a previously infected case, or that her symptoms were too minimal. After she turned down doctors’ recommendations to receive a professional check-up, she visited a church, buffet restaurant, and several other places that were crowded, leaving huge potential for a ‘super-spread’ of the virus.

Bringing the potential to reality, on that day that the 31st case visited various places in Daegu, 13 more infected cases were confirmed from nearby areas, of which ten of them went to the same church as the 31st case. The reaction to this increase in infected cases varies among the public. The majority condemns the actions of the 31st case for refusing to receive a professional check-up and recklessly visiting crowded areas knowing that cautious actions should have been taken. After a thousand or so people were in the church that the 31st case had visited, it thus became an even bigger and more rigorous job for the government to take preventive measures prior to the further spread of the virus. This incident has suggested that even without meeting an infected case, or visiting mainland China, or showing obvious symptoms, one should be taking sensible actions to protect not only oneself but the people around them also, considering that an outbreak of an epidemic should not be taken lightly.

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