In the shadow of freedom of religion and the press
Hee Young Shin 
|Abstract: The Korean government’s public health responses to the COVID-19 epidemic have achieved a remarkable outcome in terms of the measured number of infected patients and the overall mortality rate. Nonetheless, the public health authority’s various mitigation strategies and vaccination efforts have faced several challenges primarily posed by politically motivated Christian fundamentalists and ultraconservative media’s distorted news framing in Korea. This paper examines how these conservative forces – both religious and political – have undermined the Korean public health authority’s various mitigation efforts and discusses how to address the problems from a public policy point of view. The paper argues that a comprehensive legal reform including the introduction of effective punitive damages in the media market is a necessary minimum to address some of these problems.
Keywords: COVID-19; non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs); Christian fundamentalism; ultraconservative mass media; fake news; punitive damages; South Korea;
 Associate Professor of Economics, Raj Soin College of Business, Wright State University, Ohio, USA. Email: HeeYoungShin.@wright.edu.