as the Hong Kong scientist who led against MERS out-break predicts eventually 40~60 percent of the human race will contract Wuhan Corona Virus, shortage of masks, hand sanitizers and protection gloves is going to run for the long run . where some countries such as Australia is running-out of tissues also, masks is the most sought-after while others are soon stocked-up . the government seeing a riot at-hand initially began a system to sell masks through the Convenience Stores, Super-Marts, Post Office and Hanaro Mart but people frustrated from long line of queues implemented a more Communist rule from the second Week of March 2020 based on two-masks per citizen a Week beginning at drugstores, to be implemented on Post Office and Hanaro Mart as well .
- Can anyone go to purchase at drugstores any day ?
No, Monday is for birth year ending in either 1 or 6, Tuesday 2/7, Wednesday 3/8, Thursday 4/9, Friday 5/0 then Saturday & Sunday for those who missed-out during the Week .
- What time does drugstore stock-up on masks ?
this is the culprit as each drugstore differs where some just line-up and others may pass-out numbers when they know what time supply truck comes .
- Can foreigners purchase masks through this system ?
short answer : legal workers and residents only
long answer : you need to produce your Resident Registration Card AND Medical insurance Certificate .
- How about tourists, foreigners with temporary permit to stay less than 6 Months (refugee) and students ?
No, but this is the beginning stage of this distribution so some supplement should come along for visiting foreigners as well as elders living alone .
Korea Expat BLog hints on a couple of ways visiting foreigners and those with temporary stay can buy masks :
- first, forget On-Line as the three major methods : WebStores are too expensive over W5000 per mask, manufacturers own webstores much cheaper at W1500~2800 runs-out of stock in minutes if you can get through mass network traffic and you never know who is the con-man on resale forums .
- yonder-out to the central shopping district in your city where MyeongDong is for the Capital of SEOUL and you will find legal vendors although still not cheap at around W2800~3800.
- there are mask stock apps. out now for smartphones (Android is more wide-spread than iPhone in South Korea) and look for drugstores with ample masks left at the end of the day (Yes this happens by region and by chance). they might sell it to you as current rule is not engraved in stone .
- well before the government in accordance with CDC implemented to have masks available for more (almost) everyone, subway stations and regional administration offices have been giving-out masks to those in need, and even hand-delivering to elders’ homes . so if you have some way of proving you live in that legal geographical boundary : go walk-in and ask nicely .
– Korea Expat BLog
( March 29 Sunday update ) things have changed since the on-slaught after South Korea flattened the curve and here’s an in-sider for foreigners without working permits or residency :
your best bet would be to seek a one-man run drugstore or pharmacy in your neighborhood, where the whole family might be there to help-out distribution of safety masks . they are overtly KF94 Standard selling for W1500 a piece with two per person every Week but you have to show your Citizen or Alien Registration Card where the clerk will input its number into a central data system . each person is set a purchasing day-of-the-Week depending on Birth Date, then Saturday and Sunday for those who hadn’t during the Week mostly office workers .
you will immediately notice a family-run drugstore or pharmacy as soon as you step-in . a larger store will have clerks standing in row while a small one would be empty with the owner and pharmacists behind the rear compartment . since this Weekend the availability of Official distribution masks are beginning to be not as tight and family-run business are more loose in checking and recording ID numbers . befriend one and you should be able to pick every Week by reserving in advance verbably 😉
( May 18 Monday update ) mask demographics have changed as no-one yearning to buy masks, especially the most expensive and well filtered as temperatures rise into Summer .
- masks are readily available now at even convenience stores and in South Korea currently they are GS25, CU, Seven-Eleven, eMart24 and Mini-Stop in order of dispersement and popularity . they have one-time single-day use disposable as well as re-usable cotton or fabric masks and is the most expensive place to buy .
- next-up is drug-stores and pharmacy where they sell all-sorts including 50-pack bulk dust or dental masks, disposable high-filter KF80 and KF94 Korean Standard masks and so-called entertainment-star’s airport masks known from young girl-group members donning masks to hide their faces when coming in-and-out of airports where now media awaits with cameras-ready .
- and-again the cheapest would be On-Line as one can easily compare prices in a single page, but now the point is to get the most popular brand : Yuhan-Kimberly (joint-venture of local Yuhan YangHaeng and British Kimberly-Clark of Kleenx tissue fame) as the most dependable World-Wide, Well-Keeps as the most trustful local manufacturer and aer (pronounced ai-air) as the most fashionable-feminine from its cute ad-personnel and TV weather hostess . but again most web-stores in South Korea require you to have solid identity via cell phone account and well as bank verified certification for On-Line payment .