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Mother gets off bus after child, incident goes viral

Sept 14,2017
An altercation between a Seoul bus driver and mother of a 7-year-old child, coined as the “Bus 240 controversy,” has now become one of the most popular online searches in Korea after two alleged passengers claimed he ignored her “begging” and “wailing” to stop the bus to reunite with her daughter, who got off alone.

The city’s blue bus No. 240 stopped at Konkuk University Station in Gwangjin District, eastern Seoul, at 6:55 p.m. on Monday when the incident occurred. According to Kim Jeong-yun, head of the Seoul city government’s Bus Policy Division, which has been investigating the happening since Tuesday, the girl had indeed gotten off the bus alone, after which the mother alerted the bus driver 10 seconds later.

By then, the bus had moved 10 meters (33 feet) from the bus stop and transferred lanes. The bus driver attested he decided to drop the mother off at the next stop due to safety issues, and so let her out 20 seconds afterward.

After returning to the previous bus stop and meeting her daughter there, the mother went to a nearby police station to report what had happened, but officers reportedly did not help. The story went viral later that day on local portal websites, after a person who claimed to have been on the same bus wrote a complaint on the bus operator’s website.

“The bus was crowded because people had finished work,” read the post. “Everyone was shoving each other, when a girl, who appeared to be younger than 5, got off. A woman right behind her was about to follow, but the back doors suddenly closed.”

According to the writer, the mother yelled that her daughter had gotten off the bus alone, wailing for the bus driver to stop. But the driver “ignored” this and kept driving to the next stop.

Another post uploaded on a community website Monday said “all the other passengers” kept urging the driver to stop the bus, but that he drove on. “My heart pounded when the baby’s mother cried out loud,” wrote the second writer.

But the second person downplayed her story in a follow-up post Tuesday night, saying she was “sorry” for writing the first post based only on her “feelings at that time,” adding she would personally meet the bus driver to extend her apology.

Earlier on Tuesday, a person who claimed to be the daughter of the driver wrote in an online post that her father said it was an “exaggeration” that the mother wailed, adding he never ignored any passengers.

BY HONG JI-YU, KIM EUN-BIN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]