The Seoul Metropolitan Government raised alarms on Sunday as it reported 17 cases of bedbug infestations, evoking concerns over a potential rapid spread of the critters in the densely populated capital home to 9.4 million people. In response to the burgeoning issue, the city has earmarked a fund of ₩500 million KRW (about $382,000 USD) for citywide operations aimed at curbing the escalating infestations, particularly in neighborhoods grappling with poor sanitation conditions.
The core of the city’s strategy involves educating the residents about bedbugs, especially in the areas where sanitation conditions are subpar. Residents in these areas will receive a self-checklist alongside disinfectants to equip themselves against a possible infestation. The initiative underscores the importance of community awareness and action in thwarting the spread of bedbugs across homes and public spaces.
Last Thursday marked a concerning episode when health officials identified a bedbug infestation in a goshiwon (short-term budget accommodation) situated in a deprived area within the city’s central Jung-gu locality. The discovery of bedbugs lurking on mattresses and wallpapers of the goshiwon is a stark reminder of the vulnerability of such densely populated areas to infestations.
Yonhap News Agency reported a private disinfection service company citing an uptick in bedbug-related calls, with two to three requests coming in daily. Having completed cleaning services in approximately 80 areas in the city last month, the company noted that the bugs have likely invaded a much broader area than previously anticipated.
In a proactive step, Seoul has initiated a “bedbug report center,” empowering residents to swiftly report bedbug sightings through public health centers or via the city’s special 120 Dasan public call service number. Moreover, reports can be filed through a designated banner on the city’s official homepage. Upon receiving reports, ward offices will deploy authorities to inspect the affected areas, ensuring adherence to necessary regulations and insect prevention measures.
| The Economist
An intensive hygiene inspection drive is underway, targeting bedbug-prone public facilities, including hotels, other accommodations, public bathhouses, and Korean public saunas known as “jjimjilbang.” In collaboration with ward offices, the city commenced inspections of 3,175 such facilities in late October. These inspections, assessing bedding maintenance and facility disinfection conditions, are slated to continue through the end of the year, embodying Seoul’s committed effort to avert a full-blown bedbug crisis.