Governments are being put to the test as they struggle with the fast and wide spread of COVID-19 . This article discusses the compelling challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic by examining how this wicked problem has been managed by the South Korean government with agile-adaptive, transparent actions to mitigate the surge of COVID-19 . Unlike many Western countries, South Korea has been able to contain the spread of COVID-19 without a harsh forced lockdown of the epicenter of the virus . This essay argues that an agile-adaptive approach, a policy of transparency in communicating risk, and citizens' voluntary cooperation are critical factors . It also suggests that the South Korean government learned costly lessons from the MERS failure of 2015 . This essay suggests ways that Western countries can manage future wicked problems such as COVID-19 without paying too much cost and maintaining quality of life in open and free societies.