As the spread of the novel coronavirus infection continues to spread across the country, there is a growing concern about the upcoming national holiday, Chuseok.
Chuseok is similar to Thanksgiving and translates to "Autumn eve." It's a major harvest festival that takes place for three days annually in Korea. This year, the holiday will start from September 30th to October 2nd, making the holiday five days including the weekend.
However, there are many citizens who are worried about the further spread of the COVID19 as many people travel to their hometowns to their families.
On September 2nd KST, there have been three petitions asking for the removal of the Chuseok holiday or a ban on travel that have been posted on the bulletin board of the Blue House, the presidential office. Many individuals of the older generation abide by the tradition for the family to gather. However, many wonder if that should be the case this year.
The most recent petition was posted on August 26th with the title "Please cancel the Chuseok holiday this year". There have already been 3,000 citizens who have signed the petition as of September 2nd. The petitioner stated, "This is different from people voluntarily choosing not to travel and visit their families. How many households will understand the choice not to visit their families? All the elders of the family say we should be careful of the virus but still gather for the holiday."
The petitioner continued to state, "You must officially cancel the holiday so there is no emotional conflict within the family. I regret being married. There are many in-law families that are strict and scary. Do you understand the feeling of frustration of not being able to say 'we can't visit because of the coronavirus' as a daughter-in-law? We have to be prepared to get divorced. Even if we don't get divorced, the husband and the in-laws are already upset to the point the family is already divided."
The petitioner stressed that she thought about putting a travel ban across the country but that would not be kept by citizens. She stated, "I thought about the travel ban the Blue House can issue. However, that would not be kept by the citizens as shown by the mass rally held at the Gwanghwamoon by the Love First Church. So I am certain the only way to block people from traveling is to cancel the holiday altogether."
The petitioner concluded the petition stating, "We are in the middle of a pandemic. Would a holiday be that important? or is the safety of your citizens more important?" and requested for the Chuseok holiday to be canceled.
Another petition that was written on August 18th, requested for a travel ban on the citizens during the holiday season. The petition was titled, "Please put a gathering ban and travel ban for the Chuseok holiday" and there have been 22,000 people who have signed the petition so far.
This petitioner stated, "The whole nation has put a stop on their daily lives as even children are not able to attend school freely. With the current situation, holidays are a luxury that the citizens of this country cannot risk spending this year. The most dangerous thing right now is for large families to gather with all the relatives who come from across the country."
Another petitioner requested a lock-down and a ban on travel during the holiday period in which 36,000 citizens signed.
The petitioner stated, "We would like to limit our travel due to the coronavirus. However, the family members from the older generations are conservative. They want to hold the ancestral rites and pay respect to their ancestors. Therefore, we need a measure from the government body."
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Jung Se Kyun presided over a meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters on September 2nd. He mentioned the Chuseok holiday and stated, "This holiday should not be a catalyst to the spread of the COVID19. I hope that the people of this nation will consider prevention as a top priority as they make plans for the holiday."
The government stated that they are under review for the possible travel ban as many have requested. They are making efforts to ensure the Chuseok holiday will be kept as safe as possible.