Strengthening social and economic distancing measures in response to rising COVID-19 cases will hurt the economy, whereas allowing normal economic activity could lead to a further spread of the virus. Given that situation, South Korea faces a prisoner’s dilemma of damaging both public health and economic health. Therefore, the role of businesses in the response to COVID-19 should be emphasized, alongside encouraging the public to accept social and economic distancing measures. South Korea’s current response is active intervention, where the goal is to diagnose cases in the early stages, contact trace, isolate those exposed or infected and treat cases. However, should the COVID-19 pandemic turn out to be prolonged, economic activities should be resumed, requiring South Korea to seek herd immunity and focus on protecting high-risk groups.