Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has swept the world like a gigantic tsunami, turning social and economic activities upside down.
Methods: This paper presents some of the innovative response strategies implemented by the public health system, healthcare facilities, and government in South Korea, which has been hailed as the model country for its success in containing COVID-19. Korea reinvented its public health infrastructure with a sense of urgency.
Results: Korea's success rests on its readiness, with the capacity for massive testing and obtaining prompt test results, effective contact tracing based on its world-leading mobile technologies, timely provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) to first responders, effective treatment of infected patients, and invoking citizens' community and civic conscience for the shared goal of defeating the pandemic. The lessons learned from Korea's response in countering the onslaught of COVID-19 provide unique implications for public healthcare administrators and operations management practitioners.
Conclusion: Since many epidemic experts warn of a second wave of COVID-19, the lessons learned from the first wave will be a valuable resource for responding to the resurgence of the virus.
Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic; Korean response strategies; equity; lessons learned; public health systems.