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In Virus Relief, Tech-Savvy Korea Beats Paperwork-Heavy Japan

  • 2.8 million Korean families get payments without even applying
  • Hundreds queue for hours in Tokyo to reset online applications
Passengers wearing protective masks wait in line on a platform inside a subway station in Seoul on May 18.
Passengers wearing protective masks wait in line on a platform inside a subway station in Seoul on May 18.Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

Lee Jong-chul, a 57-year-old truck driver who lives just south of Seoul, says it took little more than a minute to access his 400,000 won ($330) cash handout from the South Korean government earlier this month.

For 2.8 million Korean households it didn’t take any time at all: the money was automatically wired to their bank accounts without even an application.