How Female Leaders Handle Communication Strategy during COVID-19 Crisis in South Korea
South Korea has set an exemplary model to many countries in handling its national crisis amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. While other countries experienced some impulsive behaviour of their community that led to ‘panic buying’ or ‘stockpiling’, South Korea stood strong as it was struck by the first COVID-19 domestic case.
Within only a month, the country managed to significantly reduce the number of COVID-19 new cases in March, despite a spike in February that brought them to the highest infection number in Asia, outside of China. People were following order putting their trust in the government and eventually thriving over the pandemic.
So what is the secret in reaching this result? Experiences from handling the past pandemic cases such as SARS and H1N1 have become a valuable lesson learnt for the government in responding to other health scares in the future. These experiences then shaped South Korea’s mentality to face similar situation.
But in terms of managing the crisis, there are more strategies needed to take into account. There has to be a system to accommodate communications and information from the government and a team to ensure that the people have the access to actual and reliable information. The government need to take the role as the leader to its people in coping with public’s anxiety and need to be able to translate the crisis responses manual into a crisis management governance.
South Korea has these strategies in place and it was led by Jung Eun-kyeong, Director of the Korea Centre For Disease Control (KCDC). She was the clear winner from a communication perspective during the country’s COVID-19 situation.
Jung Eun-kyeong has successfully informed the Koreans during the daily briefings on infection rates as well as shared tips on self-protection. From many of social media conversation, Koreans even pronounced her as the national ‘hero’ for bringing the people together by making sure that they have the right information.
Another woman who leads South Korea’s communication strategy is Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha. She was widely praised for delivering an articulate and exceptional explanation on one of the BBC interviews, highlighting on the right tone of messages which is also vital in this situation.
Who says crisis comms are just for men?
When we are talking about communication during crisis in the PR industry, many think that most of them are being handled by men. Because of the risk and the high, intensive pressure, many doubt women are able to overcome and manage the situation.
But what Jung Eun-kyeong and Kang Kyung-wha did has proven otherwise. There are some areas that women do better during crisis such as empathy that plays an important role in managing crisis communication and building trust in the community.
It does not mean women are incapable in making logical decisions as most men do because of this empathetic trait. In many ways, men and women have their own take-on and solution and both play their part in dealing with crisis.
Those two amazing examples should boost every woman’s confidence around the world. Women need to believe in what they could do, what they could achieve, what they could become, and what they are capable of.
Both Jung Eun-kyeong and Kang Kyung-wha showed their ways in managing South Korea’s communication during crisis that might be different from the ways that men usually do and the result has landed into nationwide acknowledgement. People praise what they have done to the country as they stepped in, showed confidence, and thrived during the pandemic.
Written by: Jonathan Cohen
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