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A man-made tragedy (KOR)

Dec 07,2018
When will this country ever become a safe one? Despite repeated promises to ensure public safety and protection from accidents and disasters, fatal incidents continue. We learn of new dangers all too often when an unexpected accident occurs, and lives are unnecessarily cut short.

On Tuesday evening, an underground pipe carrying hot water to local buildings in Goyang, Gyeonggi, burst, causing a geyser 10 stories tall, boiling one man to death in his car and scalding over a dozen more. Hot water and heat were cut off from 2,800 households through the night. Only a month ago, a fire at a gosiwon — cheap lodging houses favored by students and day workers — in Jongno, central Seoul, killed seven people.

In the hot water pipe disaster, the victim was a retired man who had been doing nothing less risky than driving his car through the area after dining out with his daughter and future son-in-law ahead of their wedding. His car fell into a huge hole in the road and he was boiled to death.

If what fire and police investigators claim is true, then this tragedy was man-made — the pipe that burst was 27 years old and rusted. Tragedy would have been avoided if city authorities took preventive measures. Korea District Heating Corp. Hwang Chang-hwa arrived at the scene three hours later, and a photo showing him smiling during a meeting caused an uproar among citizens.

In November alone, public train services were disrupted six times due to various problems. A fire at a KT switching center wreaked havoc on telecommunications, the internet, and mobile phone systems. The government must carry out comprehensive and regular examinations of all infrastructure to ensure public safety.

JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 6, Page 34