[Newsmaker] 1339 coronavirus hotline short of counselors to help foreigners
Published : Feb 7, 2020 - 15:44
Updated : Feb 7, 2020 - 15:47
Korea Centers for Disease Control’s hotline 1339 call center (Yonhap)

Foreign language speakers seeking assistance with their queries on the novel coronavirus are finding it difficult to get help through Korea Centers for Disease Control’s hotline 1339.

Korea Tourism Organization announced on Thursday that people who need advice in foreign languages could call 1339 and press 4, which would connect them to a three-way call service with interpreters to accommodate callers who do not speak Korean. The service is available in eight languages, including English, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Vietnamese, Thai, Malay and Indonesian.

However, the KTO admitted Friday that callers were experiencing difficulties in getting through.

“As the translation service can only be provided when a counselor from Korea Centers for Disease Control picks up the phone, foreigners, like many Koreans, are having some difficulties connecting,” Korea Tourism Organization spokesperson Kim Jang-won told The Korea Herald.

Following complaints about getting through to the hotline service, the government announced on Jan. 29 that it would immediately hire additional 19 counselors for its hotline. At the time, the hotline had 27 counselors and faced mounting complaints about busy signals, with callers finding it impossible to use the service.

The government also added that it would increase the number of counselors to 320 by mid-February.

By Song Seung-hyun (