Living in fire traps

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Living in fire traps

Recently in Haebangchon a foreign English teacher and a Korean national perished in a fire that ravaged their apartment. The foreign community has come together as I have never seen before in my year and a half of living here.
I am writing this in hopes that all will come together on the issue of fire safety. As children we are taught how to prevent fires and how to evacuate a burning building. But what if all exits are blocked by steel bars? Unfortunately many people who live in Seoul are not aware that they are prisoners within their own living quarters.
After the tragic fire my roommate and I became aware that we had steel bars securing our windows, supposedly to keep people out of our apartment, but in the case of a fire they would trap us inside. Immediately we went to our realtor and told him about this problem. He offered no assistance; we asked our landlord to have the bars removed and secure the windows some other way. He refused. Not until we told him we would go to the police did he agree to rectify the problem. Tomorrow he is supposed to come to the apartment to put in a new system. He expects us to pick up the cost.
Where I am from, if a person dies in fire due to a blocked exit, the landlord would be held liable for manslaughter. I wonder if this landlord has steel bars protecting his family from intruders as well.
Vincent Cunningham, Yongsan, Seoul
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