SPECIAL REPORT: The Role of Cities as First Responders to Pandemics
Pandemic-Nuclear-Nexus Project

SPECIAL REPORT: The Role of Cities as First Responders to Pandemics

The Role of Cities as First Responders to Pandemics: Focusing on the Case of the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s Response to COVID-19

Changwoo Shon

This study was conducted to discuss the role of urban governments in the future, including intercity network construction, by reviewing cases of responding to COVID-19 in Seoul amid changes in the international situation caused by COVID-19. This paper is organized into four sections. First, this paper described the outbreak of COVID-19 in Seoul from January to August 2020 and the Seoul city’s response over time. Second, the background of Alliance for Multilateralism and inter-city cooperation in accordance with the changes in the international situation due to COVID-19 was explained. Third, the response of the Seoul Metropolitan Government to the pandemic was reviewed based on the following four characteristics: (i) Social distancing; (ii) Enhanced contact tracing; (iii) Widespread testing; and, (iv) Early preparation. Finally, this paper reviewed how Seoul city cooperated with overseas cities in order to overcome the pandemic crisis, as well as the cases in which 25 autonomous districts of Seoul shared their policies using the Healthy Cities Network.


COVID-19, Pandemic crisis, City’s response, Intercity network, Role of cities

About the Author

Changwoo Shon received a Ph.D. in Health Science from Seoul National University and currently works for the Seoul Institute. The main research areas are urban health, healthy cities, and community health. Currently, he is conducting research on establishing a system for new infectious disease management, agenda-setting in the Post-corona era. In addition, he recently published research papers related to COVID-19 in the Korea Journal of hospital management (The Response of the Seoul Municipal Hospitals against COVID-19 and Its Implications for Public Hospitals), and the Journal of Korean Society for Health Education and Promotion (The direction of Healthy Cities through the COVID-19 pandemic experience of Seoul, South Korea). In addition, he is an adjunct professor of the Catholic University of Korea, an academic director of the Korea Health Communication Association, an academic director of the Korean Healthy Cities Partnership, and a member of the Disaster Safety Project Evaluation Committee of the Ministry of the Interior and Safety in Korea.