Inspections set for Chungju bars, eateries

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Inspections set for Chungju bars, eateries

Local authorities in the rural city of Chungju, North Chungcheong, launched a three-week safety inspection on the city’s bars, restaurants and lodging facilities Monday as it prepares to host thousands of athletes from across the world participating in the 2019 Chungju World Martial Arts Masterships next month.

A spokesperson from the organizing committee said the inspection was in response to the fatal Gwangju nightclub incident last Saturday, when a second-floor platform inside the club collapsed, killing two Koreans and injuring 25 others, including foreign athletes participating in the 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships.

Eight foreign athletes suffered injuries, most of which were not serious, although a U.S. water polo player from the women’s senior team suffered a deep laceration to her left leg and underwent surgery at a local hospital.

The organizing committee for the 2019 Chungju World Martial Arts Masterships, which runs from Aug. 30 to Sept. 6, said Monday it plans to run a safety inspection on 910 eateries, bars and lodging establishments in Chungju through Aug. 16. The committee expects some 4,000 athletes from 100 different countries to travel to Chungju next month to participate in 20 martial arts events, including taekwondo, judo, jujitsu and muay thai.

Chungju’s safety check-up organization will be composed of members from the National Intelligence Service, which is the country’s main spy agency, North Chungcheong police and public servants from the North Chungcheong and Chungju government offices, the organizers said.

Chungju’s all-out safety examination was announced two days after the Coyote Ugly nightclub accident sent jitters through Gwangju residents and organizers of the 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships, who were hoping to conclude the international swimming event on a positive note.

The accident occurred just a day before the closing ceremony.

One owner of a restaurant near Coyote Ugly said she feared local authorities would use the accident to clamp down on restaurants and bars in the vicinity, chasing off young customers. Coyote Ugly, according to local police, was operating illegally on numerous fronts.

The platform inside Coyote Ugly that collapsed was apparently unable to support the nearly 40 people dancing on it and was part of a second floor that was 200 square meters (2,153 square feet). However, the club had received permission from the Gwangju Seo District Office to build a second floor only half that size, 108 square meters.

Customers weren’t even supposed to be dancing on the platform in question. Coyote Ugly registered itself to the district office as a “general restaurant” where people were allowed to drink and dance only in their seats, more commonly known as “lounge bars,” unlike proper clubs that have dance floors. Coyote Ugly was supposed to be checked twice every year for any safety lapses, but it hadn’t been inspected once over the past three years since it officially began operations as a lounge bar.

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