Photo: Night street of Seoul. Credit: Public domain.
A report by MBC News showed yet another way in which the COVID-19 prevention measures have fallen on the socially vulnerable. South Korea’s runaway teens, who typically spend the night at saunas or PC rooms that operate 24 hours a day, are suddenly locked out as the social distancing guidance forced those businesses to close at 9 p.m.
As they face unstable domestic situations, returning home may mean physical danger. Meanwhile, shelters run by government and charity organizations are not equipped for socially distanced living, and must turn away many of the youth who come for help. Exposed to South Korea’s coldest winter in 35 years, the runaways are forced to sleep outside on the streets, or risk sexual assaults by strangers who entice them with a place to stay the night.