The COVID-19 pandemic poses unprecedented challenges for governments and societies around the world and represents a global crisis of hitherto unexperienced proportions. Our research seeks to analyse disaster management systems from a national perspective by examining the Korean management of the COVID-19 crisis according to a four-phase epidemiological disaster management system. Utilising a meta-study, official documents, reports and interviews, we explore the role of the control tower mechanism related to the life-cycle of disaster management, and Korea’s sustainable containment strategy. This study begins with a discussion of the crisis and disaster management literature and provides specific information related to the Korean government’s response to COVID-19. It continues by detailing specific strategies such as wide-spread testing, tracking, treatment and quarantine that have enabled Korea to prevent wide-spread community transmission. The study concludes emphasising the relevance of systematic national disaster management, providing insight into methods for containment in Korea – a system commended by the WHO. Implications include the extension and the efficient application of disaster management theory by empirical application and integration of concepts.
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