Police seize Seoul Metro records after teen’s death

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Police seize Seoul Metro records after teen’s death

Police deployed over 150 officers to seize and search records and materials at Seoul Metro on Thursday as part of their investigation into the Guui Station accident that killed a teenage mechanic two weeks ago.

The 19-year-old mechanic who was killed by an incoming train while repairing a platform door on May 28 had been employed at Eunsung PSD, a maintenance company subcontracted by Seoul Metro. Seoul Metro is a public corporation run by the Seoul Metropolitan Government that oversees operations of subway line Nos. 1 through 4. Eunsung PSD provides maintenance service at 97 stations for Seoul Metro.

The accident resembles another case last year in which a 29-year-old mechanic was killed by a train while working alone on a platform door in Gangnam Station. The victim was employed at Yujin Metro Communications, a maintenance subcontractor for 24 stations run by Seoul Metro.

Police have not completed their probe into the Gangnam case yet, and with the recent accident, it is pooling all efforts to investigate the accidental deaths of both mechanics.

In addition to Seoul Metro, Eunsung PSD and Yujin Metro Communications and Guui and Gangnam stations are also being searched by authorities.

Both mechanics were working alone when they were killed, in violation of Seoul Metro’s safety manual. Yet the public corporation’s requirement that mechanics work in pairs when repairing doors has recently come under fire as being unrealistic, given the shortage of mechanics, who are always under pressure to conduct repairs within one hour of an error report.

“The safety manual created after the Gangnam accident last year requires mechanics to work in pairs,” Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon said in his address to the public this week, “but this was a case of armchair theorizing that did not take into account the realities of time limits and labor shortages that these young men face.”

Police are investigating the cause of the accidents, the feasibility of safety manuals and links between Seoul Metro and its subcontractors, whereby retired officials of Seoul Metro were hired by subcontracted companies under more favorable conditions than regular mechanics.

BY YUN JUNG-MIN, ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]

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