중앙데일리

Expat’s death prompts activism

Mar 19,2008
The late William Kapoun, who died March 8 of injuries after a fire struck his apartment Feb. 25. [www.billkapoun.com]
The death of a young American has inspired change here in Korea.
Two weeks after a mysterious fire struck his Seoul apartment in the early hours of Feb. 25, William Kapoun died from his burn wounds on March 8.
He is survived by his parents, Dan and Judy Kapoun, and four siblings. He was 26.
The fire also claimed his girlfriend. Her family did not release her name.
Kapoun’s death dealt his family an emotional and financial blow. Kapoun did not have health or life insurance.
But a number of expats and Koreans, many of whom did not know the Alexandria, Indiana native, have since come together to support his family.
A fund-raising project to help cover Kapoun’s medical expenses collected more than $130,000 through online and offline donations, said Cade Holleman, 24, a fund organizer and friend of the late Kapoun.
Friends remember Kapoun, a part-time teacher at Bulam Elementary School in northern Seoul, as handsome and sociable.
He had been teaching in Korea for 14 months. Kapoun held a double major in history and economics from Indiana University.
He suffered third-degree burns on nearly 70 percent of his body from the fire at his apartment in Haebangchon, Yongsan District.
The expat community’s desire for unity, Holleman said, kept Kapoun’s cause alive even after his death at Hangang Sacred Heart Hospital, Seoul, on March 8.
A day after Kapoun’s memorial service, Holleman and other friends hosted another fundraiser at Phillies, a bar in Haebangchon, last Thursday. Many expats and some Koreans crowded the small bar, a rare occasion on a weekday. This event aimed to cover the cost of travel and lost wages Kapoun’s parents sustained by traveling to Korea. Holleman and his friend, Warren Franklin, plan a larger fundraiser this Saturday in Itaewon for Kapoun’s family.

Expats attend a fundraising event at Phillies, a bar in Haebangchon, Yongsan, last Thursday. The event will benefit Kapoun’s family. By Moon Gwang-lip
“Just because Will passed away does not mean people’s attachment to him and the cause will die,” Holleman said. “This is an opportunity to come together and say we stand by each other.”
Since the fire, many expats have became more aware of problems facing English teachers. “This event has become a catalyst,” Holleman said, for creating an English teachers’ union here. “This is a kick in the butt that made it happen.” The group is tentatively named the Association for English Teachers in Korea.


By Moon Gwang-lip Staff Reporter [joe@joongang.co.kr]




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