KCTA says abuse of watchmen must cease

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KCTA says abuse of watchmen must cease

In response to an immolation suicide attempt by a security guard who allegedly was abused by the apartment dwellers he was hired to protect, the country’s largest left-wing coalition of labor unions demanded an apology from the residents committee yesterday.

During a press conference held yesterday at the scene of the tragedy, the Shin Hyundai Apartment in Apgujeong-dong, southern Seoul, members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTA) criticized the poor working conditions faced by security guards, due largely to rude behavior by some residents.

“The incident was the result of disrespect and abusive language commonly employed by some residents,” the KCTA said.

A security guard identified by the surname Lee, 53, attempted suicide on Oct. 7 at the Shin Hyundai complex, one of the poshest addresses in Seoul, by dousing himself with paint thinner and setting himself ablaze in the automobile of one of the residents, according to a briefing by the Gangnam Police Precinct on Friday.

A resident who witnessed the act immediately called the police, and other security guards at the apartment complex subdued the flames with fire extinguishers, authorities added.

Lee was transported to a nearby hospital and is being treated in an intensive care unit for third-degree burns. The injuries are not life-threatening, police said.

The KCTA released a photo of Lee yesterday to the press, which showed him wrapped in bandages from head to chest and breathing with the aid of a respirator.

He hasn’t gained consciousness since the suicide attempt, the group said.

“There may be several reasons behind the suicide attempt,” an officer from the Gangnam Police Precinct said on Friday. “We’re exploring possibilities including personal insults by residents.”

Lee will be summoned upon recovery, the police said.

Lee’s coworkers at Shin Hyundai, who along with Lee are affiliated with the KCTA, were quoted by local media as saying that Lee was anguished by the behavior of some of the apartment residents.

Lee was insulted by a particular resident right before the suicide attempt, guards said.

The KCTA provided a few details about the suspected abuser yesterday.

“We were told by Lee’s colleagues that a resident of building No. 103 frequently scolded him for doing a poor job on recycling,” and that the suspect hurled food at Lee, “making him feel mortified.”

Shin Hyundai’s residents committee has yet to make a statement about the incident.

In 2010 a security guard named Lee, 65, leaped to his death from the roof of an apartment complex in which he worked.

In a suicide note, he said he hoped other guards wouldn’t suffer the same verbal and physical violence he had.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [selee@joongang.co.kr]

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