YouTuber and chef Gabie Kook violated quarantine protocol by holding a birthday party during her mandatory two week quarantine, and her actions have caused a whole load of backlash.
On September 12, Gabie uploaded a now-deleted video on her personal YouTube channel showing her lifestyle with her husband and co-host of the Korean Englishman channel, Joshua Carrott (commonly known as Josh). During this video, Gabie could be seen preparing for her birthday party, as her birthday is October 8.
However, during the video, she was seen opening the door and conversing with her friends, who came to visit her at the quarantine location. While her friends did not enter the house directly, she opened the door and stepped out of the apartment, violating quarantine protocol.
Once the video was uploaded, it was immediately met with backlash, especially from Koreans.
- “Our healthcare system is suffering because of people like her, Koreans who live overseas and just come back for the healthcare.”
- “It’s not fair that people who live mainly in other countries get our healthcare just by paying for health insurance sometimes.”
- “She said she’s been paying for health insurance, but I believe those payments are paused if you leave the country for over 3 months. Why is she lying?”
- “I don’t get why they even tried to film this.”
- “She probably just wanted to show off.”
- “It’s like a mental illness, to need this much validation from others.”
The next day, Gabie uploaded an apology to her YouTube community channel, apologizing for her actions. However shortly after, she completely edited her post, removing most of the content, and added an English portion.
After posting this community post yesterday, I have read all the comments one by one. I am ashamed and disappointed in myself for being so careless.
Not only I was careless with the quarantine rules but I instead of properly apologizing I tried to explain myself. I am aware this has caused disappointment and anger. I am truly sorry for this, especially to those who have trusted me. I have been warned that what I had initially written may have negative repercussions for the key workers that I mentioned in the post. This is the last thing that I want to happen, so I have edited this post to apologize.
My apology doesn’t change the fact that what I did was wrong. I have no excuse for my actions, it was my own fault. I am aware of the heavy responsibility I carry with this channel, and I have received your criticisms and your disappointment, and I will strive to be more responsible with my actions.
After I’m done with quarantine I will take every care to strictly follow the protocols. Meanwhile I will pause my filming and content creating in Korea as we planned to reflect on this and do all that I can to learn to be more responsible.
Lastly, I apologize once again to all the key workers who are working tirelessly to fight against covid, and to all of you who are taking this seriously and working together to stop the spread. You all have my utmost respect and I am deeply sorry.
— Gabie Kook
Her original post was as follows:
I would like to apologize for my most recent video upload that worried and stressed many people. I would especially like to apologize to the hard-working doctors and government officials who have been tirelessly working throughout this pandemic.
Before coming to Korea, I did research and reached out to quarantine centers in search of specific protocol regarding having friends and family visit during quarantine. I was told that people are allowed to come and drop things off, and as long as there is a two meter distance, proper sanitation, and they don’t enter the apartment, we could greet them and have conversations at distance. I also called this morning to re-confirm, and explained to them exactly what happened in order to make sure there was no confusion and to try and take responsibility for my actions. Here is what I was told:
- Meeting indoors, even with family, is prohibited. Leaving the quarantine place is strictly prohibited.
- When there are things being delivered, people are allowed to receive and have short conversations with the sender as long as there is a two meter distance between the two.
- Because our test results came back negative, we were informed it would not be a violation to meet people from distance.
Even if we were allowed visitors, I think I shouldn’t have had any contact unless it was an emergency. That was a careless mistake and it should have been obvious to me. I should have been more careful, and I am sincerely regretful and sorry for letting you all down.
The video that is being talked about showed clips of my birthday, where family and friends came to drop things off every 2-4 hours. The video shows them standing in the hallway outside of the home, staying back when I opened the door to keep the 2 meter distance rule and were all wearing masks. They did not enter the house. At one point, I took my mask off to blow out candles while my family were standing far away. I thought they were far enough, so I could do that. I came back to the living room to try on the lipstick when my family were still in the hallway. I am not telling you these details to try and excuse my actions, but so everyone who didn’t see the video while it was up know what I did wrong. It was careless of me, and I admit I am at fault. I am taking all of your opinions seriously. I want to apologize again for my thoughtless actions.
After seeing the comments and realizing what a terrible mistake I made, I took down the video immediately. Not only did I take unnecessary risks, I filmed it and uploaded it, which is an abuse of the responsibility that I have as a creator, especially with a large following.
Again, I sincerely apologize to those that have been deeply disappointed by my actions.
(Also, a lot of people have been curious about the connection between me and health insurance in Korea. I wanted to be a good citizen, even though I don’t reside in Korea, so I have been paying for health insurance, income taxes, and local taxes. Even though I am living abroad, I also have some business relations in South Korea. That is why I am diligently following tax laws. I would also like to point out that despite what some people claim, I do not have British or Argentinian citizenship)
— Gabie Kook
Her two apology posts vary greatly in content and explanation, and most notably, she removed the parts where she mentioned how she received the advice from the health and quarantine centers, and also removed the details about what happened in the video. Instead, she put the blame entirely on herself in her edited post.
Gabie has also deleted all videos from her YouTube account, however her Instagram account is still available.
Her husband, Josh, also posted an apology, and revealed that Korean Englishman will be taking a hiatus for an undisclosed amount of time, in order to reflect on their actions.
Hello, this is Josh here.
Firstly I want to apologize for causing disappointment, concern and discomfort to so many of you with the video uploaded on Gabie’s channel last Saturday. I’m sorry this apology comes so late.
I am truly sorry to the countless people who have made so much sacrifices to keep us safe, and I am sorry to all of you who are also sacrificing daily to fight this pandemic. I am still reflecting on the gravity of my actions with the deepest regrets.
While in self-quarantine after arriving in Korea, I invited a few of Gabie’s friends to drop off gifts at the door and we were careless about quarantine rules while greeting those friends. This was wrong and irresponsible.
Realizing the fact that I have compromised the incredible efforts that Korea as a country has been putting in for months on end makes my heart ache that much more. I am truly ashamed and truly sorry for failing to uphold and support these efforts. After making the difficult decision to come to Korea, my irresponsible actions have caused damage and distress to the Korean Englishman team, and to all of you who have shown me love, so much more than I deserve. I have disappointed all of you who have shown me support and care all these years, and I can’t express how deeply sorry I am.
Going forward, I will be taking some time so that I can fully reflect on your comments and thoughts. I will also step back from content creation, and spend this time to truly self-reflect, until I can stand before you as a better version of myself.
I am truly sorry for letting you all down, and disappointing you with my careless actions.
On the other hand, Yonhap carried out their own mini investigation about her situation, asking the KCDC what the guidelines for self-quarantining at a non-government facility are.
It is prohibited for outsiders, including family members who are not living inside the quarantine facility, to visit the quarantine location.
(Special circumstances can be made for nursing and care-taking after contacting your local health center)
— KCDC (yellow highlighting)
The rules clearly state how it is prohibited for outsiders to enter the premises, with face-to-face meetings banned, but the rules are unclear about whether it is possible to meet with someone if the visitor is following proper social distancing guidelines. In addition, the KCDC stated that it was not expressly prohibited to see visitors, as a minimal amount of interpersonal contact is necessary for receiving essentials.
Local governments are allowed to report violations of quarantine, with violators facing up to one year in prison, or a 10 million KRW ($8,703 USD) fine. The Mapo health center is in charge of Gabie Kook and Josh Carrott’s self quarantine, and explained that there were no specific inquiries about possible birthday parties, even though Gabie stated in her original statement that she asked.
Even if we did get an inquiry about a birthday party, we would never allow them to hold one with people outside the quarantine location.
It can only be held to the degree where the acquaintances can bring side dishes to the quarantine location or the parents can see their childrens’ faces for a short time, as long as they are sufficiently following quarantine guidelines.
— Mapo health center
Related to this, the Mapo health center has asked the police to investigate the situation, based on whether or not Gabie Kook violated the Infectious Disease Prevention Act with her video upload.