Actor was among those who died in accident

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Actor was among those who died in accident

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Choi Jeong-un

A 44-year-old man, Choi Jeong-un, was among those who died when a gymnasium roof at the Mauna Ocean Resort in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang, collapsed Monday, killing nine university students.

The media initially reported him as an employee of an event management company, but he was a stage actor. Choi majored in theater and film at Kyungsung University in Busan. Thanks to his talents and good looks, he had leading roles in school plays such as “Hamlet” and “Les Bonnes,” or “The Maids.”

“He used to be a sweet guy, but he became very strict onstage,” said Jo Yeong-ae, an alumnus of the same department.

His life was not very different after graduation. He continued acting in Daegu, his hometown, and regarded his economic hardship as an honor, just like many other theater actors.

He traveled to Vietnam in 2012, where he met his wife, Le Thi Kieu Oanh. She is a native Vietnamese who majored in Korean language.

They soon got married, but Choi became more burdened by his economic condition. Moreover, some of the alumni of his department shot to stardom. At first, he was passionate about his school, but later started to lose interest and didn’t show up for alumni reunions.

To make a living, Choi got a part-time job at the event company. He earned 100,000 won ($94) for taking photos and videos of the events, which cost him his life on Monday. Choi was shooting photos at an orientation event for university students and was buried under the collapsed roof with several students.

In the aftermath of the accident, the public’s attention has been focused mostly on the dead students, not on Choi. His funeral parlor was quiet when a JoongAng Ilbo reporter visited yesterday.

Some employees of the Kolon Group, the corporation that owns the resort, said they would begin talking about compensation after finishing talks with the families of the dead students first. No one from the event management company paid a visit or offered condolences at Choi’s funeral parlor.

His wife arrived in the parlor yesterday afternoon, after she heard the news while visiting her hometown in Vietnam. “The last words of his was his message saying he was working on the day of the accident,” said Oanh, with tears in her eyes. “I think people are too indifferent to his death.”

Kim Young-il, a friend of Choi’s who attended the university with him, said, “It is heartbreaking that he was not treated well even after he died.”

BY KOH SEOK-SEUNG [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]

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