After just a few decades, South Korea has emerged among the leading pack of the global economy. The nation boasts Asia’s fourth-largest economy and enjoys a cozy spot in the G-20. But to get to its current position so quickly, the country needed to stay lean and drop any unnecessary weight during its rise. Some argued that the sacrifice was made in some questionable sectors, namely safety oversight in construction.
These allegations have re-flared with the collapse of an auditorium at a resort in Gyeongju on Monday. The unfortunate event was supposedly caused by heavy snowfall of more than 40 centimeters that may have been as heavy as 10 buses when accumulated on the roof. The caved roof killed 10 and injured more than 100.
Image via AOL.
According to Kim Yeon Dong, a professor of architecture at Hanbat National University who talked to Bloomberg about the news, “construction regulations in snowy areas like this should be tougher because builders feel tempted to leave out as many supporting materials as possible to save costs as long as it’s not a violation of the law.”
Unfortunately, this isn’t the only time that a building has spontaneously collapsed in recent South Korean history. In fact, following a series of such events, the fall of the Sampoong Department Store in June 29, 1995, was so tragic that building safety rules were supposedly finally tightened. Apparently, it may have not been enough.
Putting the recent tragedy into context, the Wall Street Journal made a list of similar building-safety related accidents in South Korea.
Image via Storify.
Wawoo Apartment collapse in Seoul, 1970
The construction of this complex was suspiciously fast and under-budget, causing collapse only four months later. 33 people were killed and 39 were injured.
Image via Korea Standard Time.
Seongsu Bridge collapse in Seoul, 1994
Part of the bridge across the Han River collapsed, killing 32. “Poor construction by the construction firm, poor inspection by government officials and the government’s insufficient safety checks are to be blamed,” notes the Encyclopedia of Korean Culture.
Image via Korea Standard Time.
Sampoong Department Store collapse in Seoul, 1995
The worst of all such recent tragedies, 501 were killed and more than 930 injured after the collapse of the nine-story department store. A series of unapproved plan changes and additions added excessive weight and fragility to the structure, causing visible cracks to appear leading up to the collapse.
Image via ddanzi.
Sea Land Youth Center fire in Gyeonggi-do, 1999
23 people were killed as the three-story building burned down, the majority of whom were kindergarten children. Although 50 fire trucks came to put out the flames, the building was too old, therefore facilitating the spread of the fire to a point where there was little that could be done.
Image via The Guardian.
Manua Ocean Resort collapse in Gyeongju, 2014
This latest tragedy is being blamed on the structure of the gymnasium, which was built in 2009. Using a pre-engineered building method, (usually the go-to for industrial spaces), the building had allegedly passed previous inspections without a problem.
Of course, not all architecture in South Korea is structurally questionable. Take a look at some gorgeous examples of homes in Seoul.