Korean officials plan safety inspections of Ikea dressers

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Korean officials plan safety inspections of Ikea dressers

The Korean government is taking action that may result in a mandated recall plan or sales suspension for Ikea after the Swedish furniture giant declined to voluntarily recall dressers that caused fatal accidents in North America.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said Sunday that it will conduct an extensive safety test on the entire line of dressers sold in Korea regardless of whether they were made by domestic or foreign furniture companies. The new safety inspection will not only check the usual toxic substance level of the products but also include a tip-over test, recently added because of the recent Ikea case.

Based on the new tests, if Ikea or any other furniture makers fail to meet the newly adapted safety measures, the company will need to recall the problematic products and may even have to stop selling the affected models.

The Korean Agency for Technology and Standards, under the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, requested on July 19 that Ikea voluntarily recall chests and dressers that have been deemed problematic in North America, the most representative model being the popular MALM dresser. The furniture maker declined.

In the past two years, three toddlers have died in the United States and Canada because the dressers tipped over on the children and crushed them. There have been countless more injury reports blamed on the dresser

In June, Ikea recalled 35 million units of the low-cost dressers and stopped selling them in North America. However, the company said it has no plans to discontinue sales in Korea, where 100,000 units have been sold since Ikea entered the market in 2014. Instead, the company announced this month that it will provide a refund or a free wall-anchoring repair kit and service until December by request.

“It is hard to impose a sales suspension because there have been no deaths reported in Korea in addition to having no standard related to furniture tipping over,” said a spokesperson for the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards.

BY JIN EUN-SOO [jin.eunsoo@joongang.co.kr]
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