Traveling during COVID-19 Episode 2

As we got on the 20% filled plane, we were wondering how this airline makes money and at the same time was thankful that this airline was still operating flights out of Bangkok. As you may know, the Thai government closed the borders to incoming traffic, whether they are residents or travelers. So this airline had to fly into Bangkok empty and fly out with only 20% full.

Thank you Asiana Airlines for rescuing us!!

As soon as we landed, we walked towards the quarantine section, which had a thermal camera to check everyone’s temperatures and they took our forms that we filled out on the plane. Then they asked us where we plan on going. For me, once the officer found out that I held a U.S. passport, she wrote “미국,” which translates to “USA” and had me wear it around my neck. Then she shouted to somebody, “여기 미국인이요!” which means, “we have an American here!”

And then she asked me to sign an agreement that I will be placed in a government designated quarantine facility. I told her that I hold a permanent residency in Korea and I am entering with a Korean-national husband, who has an address in Korea. I had to convince her that I have a location where I can quarantine and I do not need the government designated quarantine facility.

After that, we were greeted by another line with the military. The people in blue in the photo below are the members of the military.

The military are wearing face shields, masks, plastic, and latex gloves to protect themselves from corona virus infections from incoming passengers. They helped passengers one-by-one in installing location tracker apps on the passengers’ smartphones. Then, they asked us for a phone number of a relative located in Korea. The soldier who were helping us dialed my mom’s phone number. He asked if she is expecting anyone from overseas. When she said yes, he said okay and hung up. We were free to go.

We were then led to another officer, who collected our forms that we filled out on the flight. This officer also tried to send me away to a different immigration line far far away from my husband just because I hold a U.S. passport. (I suppose they consider me to be a dangerous person who can possibly carry the corona virus.) I got annoyed and demanded to go through this immigration line that I am standing in front of.

They let me enter the country through the same line as my husband. We thought that all of our checks are completed and now we can go off on our merry way.

We went through immigration and collected our bags from the luggage carousel. And exited to the arrivals hall.

We had no idea that we would then be greeted with destination booths. These booths greet the travelers who are coming from overseas, based on destinations within Korea. If you go to the booth for your destination, then you can find out the bus schedule for the specific region where you are going. Then you have to purchase the bus ticket, which is located outside of the arrivals hall.

The arrivals hall had the military and the police forces everywhere, watching everyone’s move. My husband went outside to pick up bus tickets. On his way, a soldier asked him where he was going. My husband answered that he is buying bus tickets. The soldier watched him until he returned back to the arrivals hall with the tickets.

We found out that we need to wait another two hours until our bus. But we also found out that we can take a taxi home. So we quickly changed our plans and decided to take the taxi home. Hooray!

This taxi had a sign on the doors that it was sterilized. When we got on, a plastic cover separated the driver and the passenger. The taxi was to take us straight to the health center at our local district and complete the protocol prior to going into quarantine. Each local district has different protocols, depending on the need of each locality.

지난 3월 서울 동대문구 보건소에서 관계자들이 선별진료소를 찾은 시민을 안내하고 있다. 연합뉴스
[출처: 중앙일보]


Due to Seoul traffic, it took us about an hour and half to get to the local health center from Incheon Airport. When we got there, there were tents outside, where we were greeted with the local county government staff. We filled out some forms and then we were taken to another tent, where they did our COVID-19 test. We asked how much it was, and guess what?! It was FREE!! Our district took the COVID-19 test for everyone who are entering from overseas.

After our tests were completed, they took our forms and we got back on our taxi, which was waiting to take us home. The taxi driver took us home and made sure that we went inside.


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