We had heard rumors for about a week that the Andong International Maskdance Festival, one of Korea's largest, most spectacular (and for us, most LOCAL) festivals was cancelled due to the Swine Flu. But being the optimistic little foreigner that I am, I convinced myself that no one would cancel the city's largest annual cash cow based on a potential outbreak of the flu. But of course, I was wrong.
Today, the Maskdance Festival's official website (www.maskdance.com) posted this notice:
"Andong Festival Tourism Foundation is obliged to cancel the Andong Maskdance Festival 2009. We are sorry to inform that the Andong Maskdance Festival 2009 is cancelled due to the diffusion of H1N1. According to the indicator of Ministry of Public Administration and Security, major events must be cancelled to prevent the spread of H1N1 virus."
As much as I love this country and this city, I wish someone would just tell them that wearing their masks, washing their hands, and not making out with strangers who are sneezing and coughing is as effective in preventing the spread of flu as cancelling one of the country's most interesting annual events.
I would love to see the reaction in Chicago if the Taste was cancelled because of Swine Flu.
For the record, here are the numbers: appr. 7,000 people have been infected with H1N1 in Korea (out of a population est. of 50 million). Nearly all have recovered fully, and only 6 elderly people, most of whom had other, preexisting conditions, have died.
So long, Maskdance Festival! Maybe Sara and I will see you next year. Unless, of course, there's a really nasty case of the sniffles going around in September 2010.