KAIST is renowned for its excellent cherry blossoms that attract hundreds of visitors every April. During the annual cherry blossom season, KAIST suffers from illegal parking, trash accumulation, and commotion caused by picnic-goers. To tackle this age-old problem, the 33rd KAIST UA, FLEX, promised to pursue measures to reduce the number of outsiders during its pre-election campaign. On March 23, the long-cherished dream was indirectly realized with KAIST’s introduction of an all-out visitor ban in response to Prime Minister Sye-Kyun Chung’s call for stricter social distancing measures to combat the spread of COVID-19. (See Volume 176) As a part of this policy, the Safety & Security Team installed a boom barrier at the main gate to screen and prohibit visitors’ vehicles from entering the campus.
Unfortunately, KAIST’s efforts did not stop visitors from getting a full look at the cherry blossoms in the first week of April. Although this season did not see as many picnic-goers as previous years, there were still many visitors roaming around the campus despite the COVID-19 outbreak. This was because there was no realistic way to prevent pedestrians from entering the campus through other gates. Visitors also illegally parked their cars on the main road outside the gate to sneak into KAIST to enjoy cherry blossoms at full bloom, which worsened the already busy traffic. This shameful display continued through the first and second week of April.
“There is nothing we can really do about it,” said a member of the Safety & Security Team guarding the main gate. “We do not really have a method to prevent pedestrians who go around the main gate to enter the campus.”
An anonymous KAISTian uploaded several photos of illegally parked cars outside the main gate on Everytime, and on HumorUniv, a South Korean internet forum. The post went viral in the latter, reaching over 85,000 views and 1,100 likes. Many comments frowned upon the outsiders’ lack of moral and carelessness for others, especially during these extraordinary times of pandemic outbreak. An anonymous comment epitomizes how many KAISTians remaining on campus feel about the issue. “I don’t understand why people keep coming into KAIST when they [were] specifically asked not to.”