Seoul seeks to tame bedbug infestations

SEOUL, The Seoul metropolitan government said Sunday it has received 17 cases related to bedbugs so far, raising concerns over a rapid spread of the critters in the densely populated capital with 9.4 million people.

The city said it has allocated a budget of 500 million won (US$381,000) to citywide efforts to prevent infestations from escalating, especially in neighborhoods with poor sanitation conditions.

Under the efforts, the city will provide residents in those areas with a self-checklist to educate themselves about bedbugs, along with disinfectant.

Last Thursday, health officials spotted bedbugs in a goshiwon, or a short-term budget accommodation, in a poor area in the city's central Jung-gu area. They found bedbugs on the mattresses and the wallpaper of the goshiwon.

One private disinfection service company told Yonhap News Agency that it was receiving two to three calls every day about bedbugs. The company said it had completed cleaning service in some 80 areas in the city last month, adding the bugs must have spread into a far wider area than expected.

Workers disinfect a university dorm room in the southeastern city of Daegu on Oct. 19, 2023, following a report of bedbugs.

The city has begun operating a "bedbug report center," allowing people to quickly notify the city of bedbug appearances via public health centers or the city's special 120 Dasan public call service number. Reports can also be filed through a special banner on the city's homepage.

Once reports are filed, the city's ward offices will dispatch authorities to inspect the reported areas and ensure compliance with relevant regulations and necessary insect prevention measures.

Seoul is currently conducting intensive hygiene inspections of bedbug-prone public facilities, such as hotels, other types of accommodations, public bathhouses and Korean public saunas called "jjimjilbang."

In cooperation with ward offices, the city has started to inspect 3,175 such public facilities since late October to assess bedding maintenance and facility disinfection conditions. The city will continue with the inspections through the end of the year.

Source: Yonhap News Agency