I can accept the title: In a rarity, malaria kills two people in Korea. Probably, death from malaria is uncommon here. This sentence is what surprised me: "No one in Korea has ever been infected on the peninsula by malaria, although some travelers have returned here with the disease."
Further, after searching the Joongang's own archives, I found this article, "With bipartisan nod, Seoul to fund NGO flood aid" (August 4, 2006).
According to the article:
... the flood disaster in the North rang alarm bells in the South about the potential for an epidemic as the number of patients with malaria in the North reportedly increased after last month’s flooding. Earlier this month, a South Korean activist group, Good Friends, said that an increasing number of malaria patients have been found in Kaesong and Haeju in the North after the flood.
The Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention said mosquitoes could fly from North Korea to South Korean regions near the Demilitarized Zone. According to the center’s data from January to June, 333 patients with malaria were reported to the center, up 47 percent from 226 patients in the same period last year. The western parts of the DMZ, Gimpo and Paju in Gyeonggi province and Ganghwa in Incheon, are likely to be infested by malaria mosquitoes, flying up to 18 kilometers from Kaesong, Jangpyong, and Tosan in North Korea, the center said.
Other news of Malaria in South Korea:
- -the Canadian Red Cross will not accept blood donations from visitors to areas near the DMZ for several months after return due to fears of malarial transmission.
- - the July 2007 edition of National Geographic includes a world map that shows northern South Korea as having Plasmodium vivax, one form of Malaria.
- -In the late '90s, military leaders described malarial mosquitoes at the DMZ as a hazard for their troops. Amusingly, I recall the article as almost reading that the North Koreans were sending the malaria across the DMZ deliberately.
- -According the CDC: South Korea: Risk limited to Demilitarized Zone and to rural areas in the northern parts of Kyonggi and Kangwon Provinces.
- -A student told me that during his military service, he contracted malaria.
These articles all focus on North Korea and northern South Korea but the original article specifically states, "...the peninsula...", not merely South Korea and do include parts of South Korea.
My best wishes go out to the families of the "57-year-old Korean patient and [the] 59-year-old Greek man" (both people were sick in the same hospital -how is only one a patient?). I also hope the family of the "Greek man" are not further demonized - the article suggests the Greek man infected the "Korean patient".
UPDATE: The Joongang has edited its online edition, adding the word tropical:
Original:No one in Korea has ever been infected on the peninsula by malaria, although some travelers have returned here with the disease.
Current (July 3, 10:30pm):No one in Korea has ever been infected on the peninsula by tropical malaria, although some travelers have returned here with the disease.
There is also some discussion of "plasmodium falciparum" (incorrectly written: the genus name should be capitalized) that I don't recall in the original article. Aside from this nitpick, the article is now correct.