the building of mass-hysteria :

as masks were simply unable to get Off-Line and price rising over W5000 per-mask On-Line, the makings of nation-wide panic was in-place to get masks perhaps more than Wuhan Corona Virus itself . thus the government needed to do something especially in-view of parliament elections coming-up, so in an act like Communist State : decided to purchase 80% of all domestic mask production to sell them at drugstores, Post Offices ans Hanaro Mart from February 27 Thursday 2020 afternoon . now to understand this, picture two scenes constantly repeating throughout the Peninsula in your head :

  1. the current administration led by the President in a huge round-table holding a meeting then soon the Presidential Press Secretary issuing Official release on mask strategy,
  2. people waiting in block-long queues to purchase masks from neighborhood drugstores to the Post Office, Hanaro Mart and even CostCo.


most input from citizens at On-Line forums expected regional administration office to either give-out or sell masks, but the government’s stance was that they did not have the infrastruture as vendors, as they mostly issue documents aside from receiving rather small currency for organizing recycling products and used furniture and electronics . until a drugstore clerk suggested on presidential communication On-Line board on using individual perscription registry system already in-use at drugstores . the government will allocate 80% of domestic mask production and distribute-for-sale at (mainly) drugstores or pharmacy, Hanaro Mart and Post Office .


Purchase at drugstores by birth date, limited to two masks per-person :

  • Mondays if your birthday year ends in 1 or 6
  • Tuesdays if your birthday year ends in 2 or 7
  • Wednesdays if your birthday year ends in 3 or 8
  • Thursdays if your birthday year ends in 4 or 9
  • Fridays if your birthday year ends in 5 or 0
  • Weekends if you haven’t purchased this Week, and that’s it if you don’t – as this Week’s quota won’t extend to the Week after – most drugstores are open Saturdays and some Sundays . there are many smart-phone which show you these on a map //

Exception where you have to show Official document of residency from regional administration office :

  1. children under 10 years old has to accompany an adult living at the same address,
  2. elders over 80 years old and physically imparted person can have a person of same address purchase for him/her (so this system leaves-out elders living alone to die if contracted)
  3. physically disabled person can have his/her care taker purchase instead .

Post Office and Hanaro Mart still sells only one-per person without checking identity, as of this Posting but will soon follow the drugstore model above . all masks are Korean Filter Standard KF94 and mostly Large for adults at W1500 a-piece, to evade responsibility in case someone inflicts virus after purchasing from government route . all-the-while there are concerns the two main wholesale contractors are monopolizing this government-sanctioned Official distribution system .

is it working ? in my careful view, Yes as I have seen mostly a handful of people waiting in queue since this started and it is a matter of three criteria :

  1. look around your neighborhood to check several drugstores, and if most have long lines or do not have any.. better yonder-out to the next area .
  2. drugstore clerks does not seem to have to report nor record specifics of who bought what, at the moment for now – thus you have a winning hand if you have been coming to a specific drugstore and know them in advance as they will sell you (and your family portion) even if your birthday don’t match for that Week day //
  3. then you have to know what time shipment comes-in . here you can be simply lucky, or call the drugstore and they will tell you exactly if you have befriended as above 😉


– Korea Tech BLog, last update March 11 Wednesday 2020 Sunrise

( March 28 Saturday update )

  • lesser queue lines are noticeable at Offical selling points as of today,
  • average individual prices for KF94 Standard masks at reseller forums dropped to W3000~3500 from W4000+ during February and March
  • but these single-use disposable masks are still sold-out On-Line at internet Shopping Malls (which still sell non-standard, cotton or those with exchangeable filters – which aren’t efficient to use easily).

( April 4 Saturday Update )

where-as Korean government-controlled one-day use disposable safety masks commonly selling at W1500 each were easier to get at neighborhood drug-stores or pharmacy than the same Official selling-points of Post Office and Hanaro Mart simply because there are more branches around work-place as well as homes, people still had a hard time getting their share depending on geographical location as some had more drug-stores or pharmacy than other areas . however queues seem largely gone as of past Week from citizens telling their experience on local forums . but still those on On-Line Shopping Malls are still out-of-stock normally selling at W4000 while independent sellers on used-items communities sell for W2000~3000 a piece (now 50~25% cheaper peak times last Months in March when you could have still gotten  easily at W4500+).

( May 18 Monday ) times have changed as the weather gets warmer, thus people opt for normal dust or dental masks much cheaper and current KF94 masks distributed by the government is selling lower at used-item forums at W1000 each . so as lesser people want it and virtually no lines in front of drug-stores pharmarcy nor Hanaro Mart, authorities have laxed rules in buying them .

  1. one person can purchase a maximum of three masks per Week, where if you don’t buy that Week you cannot purchase that portion after that
  2. any family members can buy the children or parent’s portion that is for age under 18 or over 80 with family records issues by Regional Administration Office (two sorts in South Korea : from smaller regions of Dong, or larger Gu) – where before you had to be of immediate blood-line like father-daughter and not between siblings . methods are still tricky in that childrens can buy Monday and Tuesday, while parents Wednesday and Thursday .
  3. days-of-the-Week for each individuals above still apply //


( May 29 Weekend update ) above strict measures enacted early March to distribute high-quality filter KF94 Standard masks most equally among the Korean population, arising from long queue lines and quadupling prices from February, is now being laxed as every-one has it now since May and no-lines to be seen at drug-stores pharmacy – but still at larger super-marts as it is slightly cheaper . now anyone can purchase 3 masks while high-school students and younger 5 . also the government will distribute (NOT FREE) lighter masks such as dental masks (which is overtly sky-blue in color) and 3-layer filter sand-storm masks – both much cheaper for W15000 for 50 pieces – as Summer closes .