Workers wearing protective gear disinfect a train to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, at Seoul Metro Gunja Train Depot in Seoul on March 11, 2020. Photo: Jung Yeon-je / AFP
A video making the rounds on South Korean social media shows a man brawling with passengers on a crowded train car in Seoul after he was confronted for not wearing a mask.
During the altercation, captured on video by a fellow train passenger, the man takes off his sandal and begins to slap other passengers who called him out for disobeying coronavirus measures in place. "What is it to you? Why do you care?" the angry man said in the video.
"Is it not an illegal action?" a passenger responded. Seoul mandated the wearing of face masks in both indoor and outdoor public spaces from last week in response to a surge in coronavirus cases. When another passenger told the man about this citywide policy, the man became more enraged and slapped the passenger with his sandal. Another passenger who confronted the man was strangled. The unnamed man, believed to be in his 50s, was arrested on Thursday, August 27, police said. They added that the man provoked and “assaulted” the other passengers because they had asked him to wear a mask. Violating measures in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus can result in a fine of up to 3 million won ($2,500). At least six people have been arrested for assault in relation to mask-wearing policies, the police said. In May, South Korea introduced a “no mask, no ride policy” for transportation on buses and taxis across the nation. According to The Korea Times, a total of 349 people have been arrested for mask-related violations since the policy was introduced in May. In Seoul, there were 1,280 reports of people failing to comply with mask-wearing policies in place since last week, according to Yonhap news agency. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 248 new COVID-19 cases on Monday. In total, the country has reported nearly 20,000 cases and 324 deaths. Last week, thousands of doctors continued to strike in opposition to some government proposals, including plans to increase the number of medical students.On Sunday, August 30, the Greater Seoul area raised its coronavirus response to Level 2 in order to curb the growing outbreak.Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun expressed opposition to raising quarantine measures to the highest response level, saying that such a measure will be the “last resort.”