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S. Korea to send fewer emergency text alerts from next year: Safety Ministry

(Ministry of the Interior and Safety)
(Ministry of the Interior and Safety)
The government will introduce stricter rules for emergency text alerts starting next year in response to growing public fatigue over the notifications amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In response to an inquiry from Rep. Park Soo-young of the People Power Party, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety said that starting in 2021 it plans to refrain from sending emergency text alerts between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., unless deemed absolutely necessary.

Using the text alert system to promote government policies will be barred at all times.

Emergency notifications will not be sent just to inform the public that no new COVID-19 cases have been diagnosed, the ministry said. But local authorities can still use the system to refer people to websites showing the routes taken by confirmed carriers and their contacts.

The ministry data shows that from January to September this year, a total of 34,679 emergency text alerts were sent out by central government and local authorities.

The figure averages to 126 emergency notifications per day.

Rep. Park expressed worry that too many text messages could lead people to develop a tolerance to disaster alerts and undermine their effectiveness in the event of a genuine emergency.

South Korea has allowed government agencies to send out emergency text alerts to warn the public of natural disasters and provide guidelines in emergency situations.

With the COVID-19 pandemic in force, the increasing number of repetitive messages about the coronavirus situation has made people grow weary of the emergency announcements.

By Ko Jun-tae (