In the absence of a vaccine or treatment, the most pragmatic strategies against an infectious disease pandemic are extensive early detection testing and social distancing. This study aimed to summarize public and workplace responses to Coronavirus Disease-19 (COVID-19) and show how the Korean system has operated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Daily briefings from the Korean Center for Disease Control and the Central Disaster Management Headquarters were assembled from January 20 to May 15, 2020. By May 15, 2020, 11,018 COVID-19 cases were identified, of which 15.7% occurred in workplaces such as health-care facilities, call centers, sports clubs, coin karaoke, and nightlife destinations. When the first confirmed case was diagnosed, the Korean Center for Disease Control and Central Disaster Management Headquarters responded quickly, emphasizing early detection with numerous tests and a social distancing policy. This slowed the spread of infection without intensive containment, shut down, or mitigation interventions. After entering the public health blue alert level, a business continuity plan was distributed. After entering the orange level, the Ministry of Employment and Labor developed workplace guidelines for COVID-19 consisting of social distancing, flexible working schedules, early identification of workers with suspected infections, and disinfection of workplaces. Owing to the intensive workplace social distancing policy, workplaces remained safe with only small sporadic group infections. The workplace social distancing policy with timely implementation of specific guidelines was a key to preventing a large outbreak of COVID-19 in Korean workplaces. However, sporadic incidents of COVID-19 are still ongoing, and risk assessment in vulnerable workplaces should be continued. © 2020 The Author.