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Searching for Blame in Deadly South Korean Building Collapse

Written by Lee Yoo Eun On 20 February 2014 @ 1:25 am | No Comments

In Citizen Media, Disaster, East Asia, Education, English, Feature, Governance, Korean, Media & Journalism, South Korea, Youth

Ten college students were killed [1] and 105 injured in a building collapse in South Korea on February 17, 2014. In a country where the dreadful memories of the Sampoong disaster [2], which claimed over 500 lives, and other deadly collapses are still fresh among adults, online venues have been flooded with concerns over the repeated safety lapses and discussions on who or what to blame for incidents such as these.

The accident occurred [3] as heavy snow caved in the roof of a building where 500 freshmen from the Pusan University of Foreign Studies were staying for two days of orientation events before embarking on their very first semester there.

Some initial media reports pointed fingers at the student council for organizing the event [4] [ko] without the university's supervision and specifically, for choosing that location, or at the Mother Nature. Unusually heavy snow [5] [ko] far exceeding the region's average precipitation hit the city of Gyeongju for several consecutive days, and the sheer weight of the snow is reported to have put so much pressure on the facility's steel panels that they snapped.

However, as investigation progressed, many seemed to reach the conclusion that this may have been a preventable manmade disaster after all. The collapsed  building Manua Ocean Resort was built rather hastily in only two and a half months [6] [ko], and since construction finished in 2009, it had never had a single regular safety check-up [7] [ko].

It is not like the building was shelled; it collapsed only because of the heaping piles of snow. The first ones to blame are the ones who built that building and who are in charge of the building's maintenance. Why do some people in my Timeline keep talking about how the college had a shortage of funds so the student council had to choose a cheaper location for the orientation?

How do such things keep happening, despite all the money spent [to enhance] the construction sector, and even after we had a department store and a bridge collapse? 

Collapse of the Sampoong Department Store [2]Hwaseong Sealand disaster [11]Incheon Bar fire [12] [ko], Taean Seaside bootcamp disaster [13]… All those manmade disasters, have we learnt nothing from them? This Gyeongju Mauna resort disaster – as a person who has children, I feel so miserable and also furious.

There is a similar pattern between the Gyeongju resort facility collapse and the recent mass credit card data breach [15]: our society's “risk-taking” culture. They are all focused on starting new things, but don't pay as much attention to possible risks ahead nor give extra care to maintenance.

This is a photo from the Gyeongju Mauna Report collapse scene, shared by a net user of online community site ‘I Love Soccer’.

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URL to article: https://globalvoices.org/2014/02/20/searching-for-blame-in-deadly-south-korean-building-collapse/

URLs in this post:

[1] Ten college students were killed: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/news/2014/02/17/0200000000AEN20140217009154315.html?input=www.tweeter.com

[2] Sampoong disaster: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sampoong_Department_Store_collapse

[3] The accident occurred: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303491404579389673484667830?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702303491404579389673484667830.html

[4] the student council for organizing the event: http://www.yonhapnews.co.kr/local/2014/02/18/0802000000AKR20140218057000051.HTML

[5] Unusually heavy snow: http://news.khan.co.kr/kh_news/khan_art_view.html?artid=201402172356075&code=940202

[6] only two and a half months: http://t.co/Sf5RzSJGog

[7]  had never had a single regular safety check-up: http://goo.gl/4CzrFh

[8] February 17, 2014: https://twitter.com/epistazo2/statuses/435450200237150213

[9] February 17, 2014: https://twitter.com/leetj20/statuses/435457680514088960

[10] February 18, 2014: https://twitter.com/DrPyo/statuses/435743613746565123

[11] Hwaseong Sealand disaster: http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/asiapcf/9906/30/korea.fire.02/

[12] Incheon Bar fire: http://ko.wikipedia.org/wiki/%EC%9D%B8%ED%98%84%EB%8F%99_%ED%98%B8%ED%94%84%EC%A7%91_%ED%99%94%EC%9E%AC_%EC%B0%B8%EC%82%AC

[13] Taean Seaside bootcamp disaster: http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20130721000234

[14] February 18, 2014: https://twitter.com/cheolsoo0919/statuses/435622858690007040

[15] mass credit card data breach: https://globalvoicesonline.org/2014/01/24/massive-credit-card-data-theft-hits-20-million-south-koreans/

[16] http://t.co/QDu3UJJYOa: http://t.co/QDu3UJJYOa

[17] @nanamjmj: https://twitter.com/nanamjmj

[18] pic.twitter.com/GbHDuHcYxP: http://t.co/GbHDuHcYxP

[19] February 17, 2014: https://twitter.com/wikitree/statuses/435410827445678080

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