S. Korean entertainment scene on edge following COVID-19 outbreaks
SEOUL-- The local entertainment scene is on alert after TV personalities and singers have tested positive for the new coronavirus, raising concerns that the outbreak may spread wider in the industry.
Volleyball player-turned-TV personality Kim Yo-han was one of the first celebrities to test positive in a series of infections reported recently. A number of celebrities and athletes who have appeared on the same shows have also tested positive.
Model Han Hye-jin, who appears on a cable channel IHQ program alongside Kim, has tested positive, according to her management agency Esteem Entertainment. Other people who appear on the show are also waiting for their results after taking screening tests.
Athletes who appear on the JTBC program "We Kick Together" have also tested positive. A JTBC official said that other athletes who took part in a shoot last week alongside Kim -- including Olympics gold medalists Park Tae-hwan and Mo Tae-bum -- have also tested positive.
While the production staff and athletes were not required to take screening tests according to antivirus guidelines, they voluntarily got tested and were confirmed to have contracted the infectious virus, the official added.
Production for the cable channel show has been called off, but the possibility of more TV personalities -- who also appear on other TV programs -- testing positive have put the industry on alert.
In the K-pop scene, two members of boy band TREASURE have tested positive. Member Doyoung first tested positive earlier this week after taking a simplified screening test with a self-test kit ahead of an advertisement shoot. He was confirmed positive in a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.
On Friday, the group's agency YG Entertainment said member So Jung-hwan has also tested positive. So initially tested negative but was confirmed positive during a PCR test he took while under home isolation.
The series of infections is taking place amid a spike in COVID-19 cases in the greater Seoul area, with critics raising the need for stricter anti-virus measures in the entertainment industry.
While the television scene has stayed relatively safe from the infectious virus, some have pointed out working environments in which most TV personalities do not wear masks on shoots and in studios.
On Friday, South Korea added 1,536 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total caseload to 175,046, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency. While the figure is lower than the record high posted earlier this week, new infections are feared to increase in line with the holiday season and a pileup of cases.
Source: Yonhap News Agency