Weeks have passed since South Korea began grappling with a widespread bedbug outbreak. In response, its central and regional governments have scrambled to launch a four-week campaign beginning Monday, to inspect and disinfect vulnerable facilities and high-risk public spaces.
Despite these measures, fear continues to ride high. People are now jumping into action, with some taking measures to map infestations so that the public can be aware of them.
In a tech-savvy approach reminiscent of crowdsourced contact tracing at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, South Koreans are creating online dashboards to track and document bedbug infestations. Websites like Bedbugmap (bdmap.imweb.me) and Bedbudboard (bedbugboard.com) have emerged as vital resources in particular, offering real-time updates on infestations by region, displayed on interactive maps.
As of Tuesday, Bedbudboard, offering the most up-to-date information, has so far logged 45 confirmed cases across 36 locations, with a significant concentration in the greater Seoul area. Its map shows the approximate locations of reported bedbug infestations across the country including residential buildings, bathhouses and schools, while withholding their exact addresses for privacy reasons.
What is particularly noteworthy about this platform is that its operation is based entirely on community participation, creating a real-time platform for ordinary residents to share information. In addition to reports sourced from news outlets, the website features user-submitted photos and videos that show suspected bedbug activity. These submissions, separately flagged as "suspicious" cases on the website, supplement confirmed media accounts and contribute to broader public awareness.
According to local news reports, Kang Jae-gu, a 29-year-old blockchain engineer from Seoul, created the website out of his own fear of the pests. Responding to queries from multiple media outlets, Kang stressed his commitment to providing reliable information without commercial intent, noting the limitations of the platform amid the absence of official government data. His goal is to keep the public informed until the bedbug crisis abates.
"My goal is simply to provide the most trustworthy information possible," Kang was quoted as saying. "I will keep the site up until all the bedbugs are gone, which hopefully is sooner rather than later."