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Banks initiate emergency response plans against coronavirus

In this photo taken on Jan. 28, KB Kookmin Bank employees wear face masks in front of customers to prevent the spread of coronavirus. (Yonhap)
In this photo taken on Jan. 28, KB Kookmin Bank employees wear face masks in front of customers to prevent the spread of coronavirus. (Yonhap)
As the number of coronavirus cases continued to surge in Korea on Tuesday, all major banks here launched emergency response plans to protect their core networks.

Commercial banks -- including Woori, Hana, KB Kookmin and Shinhan -- have temporarily shut down around a combined 20 brick-and-mortar branches across the nation, as of Tuesday afternoon.

They have been following basic quarantine procedures, such as ordering employees at branches that came in contact with coronavirus patients into self-isolation for at least two weeks.

The branches that have been shut down have been normalized after three or four days of quarantine.

Most importantly, lenders have been distributing their core networks, operated by respective headquarters, to different branches. The move aims to prevent a systematic failure should headquarters have to be shut down after coming in contact with patients.

Shinhan has been dispatching its officials in charge of key businesses to different headquarters within and outside Seoul, its official said.

KB Kookmin’s business units located at its headquarters are divided into four different buildings across Seoul, making it easier to distribute its operations. It has decided to move its operations to a different headquarter, if a certain building faces a lockdown.

It has divided its systematic operations to its Yeouido headquarters in western Seoul and its information technology center in Gimpo, Gyeonggi Province. In case both centers have to be closed, they have temporarily allowed employees to gain access to core networks at home.

Hana and Woori have both prepared temporary offices.

NH Nonghyup has secured another IT center in Gyeonggi Province should its two Seoul IT centers have to face quarantine.

The commercial lenders have decided to ease their firewalls to allow employees to work at home if necessary.

Despite growing fears of a systemic crash, bank officials were confident that their core systems would withstand the latest viral outbreak.

“The South Korean banks’ core IT systems have not crashed in past outbreaks such as SARS in 2003 and MERS in 2012,” a Shinhan official told The Korea Herald.

By Jung Min-kyung (mkjung@heraldcorp.com)
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