South Korea fights off unprecedented bedbug infestation


(SEOUL, South Korea) — South Korean authorities have been desperately detecting and exterminating bedbugs for the last two weeks, as a major disinfection of transportation and public facilities is on the way.

Fear among South Korean citizens is beginning to spread after more than 30 confirmed or suspected bedbug reports were filed across the country, according to the government joint countermeasures headquarters on Wednesday.

The first bedbug report was in October at a public bath house in Incheon which led to a business closure. Not long after, a college in Daegu, south of the capital city of Seoul, reported a student who was bitten by bedbugs in their dormitory.

Ever since, bedbug eyewitness accounts, particularly concerning public facilities and accommodations, have been piling up while the government is still trying to figure out how to solve the problem.

Seoul’s Metropolitan Government brought up measures to prevent the bedbugs from spreading by steam cleaning and sterilizing buses, subways and taxis and examining poorer housing areas, accommodations and bath houses where bedbugs are historically likely to spread.

“Based on the experience of disinfection management during the pandemic, the government is going all-out in providing safe transportation to citizens,” Yoon Jong-jang, who is in charge of Seoul city’s transportation, told ABC News.

South Korea has essentially been free of bedbug issues since the 1970s when the government implemented insecticides all across the country resulting in just nine bedbug cases reported in the last decade, according to the Ministry of Disease Control and Prevention Agency.

“The fear among people is high as bedbugs still sound foreign to Korean people. Not many people know exactly what a bedbug looks like,” disinfection specialist Park Jun Sang of the Korea Pest Control Association told ABC News. “There are several cases where a disinfection team arrives to eradicate bedbugs but turns out the damage results from a different type of insects.”

While the government is conducting research to implement a different type of pesticide to tackle bedbugs, the Korea Airports Corporation announced a plan to examine all airports in the country to find signs of bedbugs on Wednesday in an effort to stem any inflow of the creature from overseas.

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