Security guard protest rages on

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Security guard protest rages on

Ever since a security guard was called a “servant” by the resident representative of an apartment complex in Seoul in May, security guards from all over the country have been gathering at the complex to hold one-man demonstrations.

The controversial case happened on May 13 at an underground parking lot of an apartment complex in Seocho District, southern Seoul.

“Who do you think you are? You [expletive] are nothing but a servant!” a man yells at the apartment security guard in a CCTV camera footage. “You are a servant, you hear me? I am the master and I pay you all!”

The argument broke out when the security guard, Kim Gook-jin, 59, asked the man, the resident representative of the apartment complex, to review a lighting construction contract he signed with a company that the Seocho District Office found faulty. The CCTV footage went viral and Wednesday marked the 44th day of the demonstrations at the complex by security guards from all over the country.

Yoo Seon-hee, a 43-year-old security guard who works in Chuncheon, Gangwon, woke up at 3 a.m. on June 7 to travel to Seocho District, Seoul, held a picket sign at the apartment complex for 30 minutes, and then went back to Chuncheon to start his work on time. The sign read, “A servant? The nation’s 300,000 apartment security guards are seething with rage. Apologize now, resident representative.”

Kang Choong-ki, a 56-year-old security guard of an apartment complex in Guro District, southern Seoul, has already held the same picket sign five times at the apartment complex.

“Not all security guards are spoken to like that guard in the CCTV footage,” Kang said, “but we more or less work in similar conditions.”

A 45-year-old female security guard surnamed Lee used to work at an apartment complex in Seongbuk District. She says she became involved in a lawsuit in which a group of residents sued other residents for soil erosion possibly caused by gardening work. When the plaintiff group requested Lee to be the litigation representative, and she accepted, the defendant group fired her for being “a security guard who sues residents.”

In another case, a resident beat a security guard in Suwon, Gyeonggi, when he did not comply with the resident’s demand to move a stroller sitting in a hallway of the apartment complex.

According to the Seoul Labor Center last year, 22 percent of 455 security guards in Seoul said they have been verbally or physically mistreated by their residents.

Security guards need to pass a license exam that tests them on civil law, accounting principles and construction basics, as well as laws on apartment management, in order to apply for apartment security guard jobs. Given that security guard positions are frequently sought by retirees, guards tend to have ample experience from their lifetime careers.

“When I worked as a guard in South Chungcheong,” said Yoo Seon-hee, “the resident representative told me that a ‘good security guard’ is not one who does his or her job well but one who takes female members of the apartment representative body to karaoke bars and entertains them.”

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

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