Noise drives man to light building on fire, killing 2A 72-year-old man surnamed Lim who lives on the second floor of a two-story villa in Bupyeong District, Incheon, lit his neighbor’s house on fire over noise on Monday, claiming the lives of the neighbor’s daughter and her boyfriend, who was visiting the villa.
The incident began when Lim, who owns the whole villa, and his neighbor living on the first floor identified as Cho, 51, began quarreling at around 5:50 p.m. Monday, the Bupyeong Police Precinct reported.
Seeing no end to the dispute, the increasingly upset Lim brandished a hatchet and then lit a fire after spraying gasoline inside Cho’s house.
Due to the smoke from the fire, Cho’s 27-year-old daughter and her boyfriend, 24, died from suffocation. Cho’s wife was spared when she jumped out of the window and Cho also escaped the fire.
The police reported the two neighbors were often seen raising their voices over the noise over the past three years. The fire totally burned Cho’s apartment. Lim’s apartment was also partially damaged by the fire.
According to the authorities, Lim and Cho have lived in the same building for 10 years.
Lim suffered a second-degree burn from the fire he started and will be questioned by the police when he recovers from the self-inflicted burns, the police said.
Monday’s tragic incident is the latest in a string of crimes related to apartment noise this year that have alerted the nation about how much people are stressed by disturbances at home.
During the Lunar New Year holiday this year, a 45-year-old man killed two brothers visiting their parents after an argument over noise in a Seoul apartment building.
Korea is especially prone to noise disputes as 57.2 percent of Koreans live in multiunit residential buildings such as apartments and condos as of 2010, according to Statistics Korea.
In a Gallup Korea poll conducted in February of 929 residents living in multiunit housing, 42 percent of residents in such buildings said they were bothered by noise from neighbors, and of those, 60 percent were willing to pay 10 million won ($9,000) to be rid of the issue.
In response to a string of apartment noise-related disputes, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport stated earlier this year it will introduce new building codes requiring apartment developers to include soundproof measures between floors. One of the required measures includes an increase in floor thickness.
Floors in all apartment buildings will be required to be at least 21 centimeters (8.3 inches), enough to absorb at least 58 decibels of noise.
In addition, all new apartments will be built in the column-style specifically to absorb noise.
The renewed rules are expected to take effect next year.
Taken aback by the seriousness of problems due to floor noise by the Monday incident that occurred at a villa-style building, the Land Ministry said yesterday it will extend the regulation to cover such buildings.
By Chung Ki-hwan, Kang Jin-kyu [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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