Lotte World Mall door falls on, injures shopper

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Lotte World Mall door falls on, injures shopper

Lotte World Mall found itself once again dogged by safety problems on Saturday after one of its entrance doors fell onto a shopper.

The incident is the latest in a series of accidents and defects that have plagued the mega retail complex, a 3.5 trillion won ($3.1 billion) construction project that encompasses a 123-story residential tower currently under construction and auxiliary entertainment facilities. The low-rise entertainment complex that opened in October has been consistently embroiled in controversy over safety.

Saturday’s accident follows the death of a construction worker, who reportedly fell more than 8 meters (26 feet) to the ground from a scaffold in the complex’s concert hall.

Lotte World Mall’s aquarium, in which cracks were found, and its multiplex movie theaters were also shut down earlier this month by order of the Seoul Metropolitan Government amid safety concerns.

Lotte Corporation, which is in charge of the mall in Jamsil, southeastern Seoul, said on Sunday that a 25 year-old shopper, only identified by her surname Chung, hurt her head and shoulder when one of the complex’s entrance doors fell onto her at about 6 p.m. on Saturday.

The entrance is near Jamsil Station exit 11. The door is made of glass and is 3 meters high.

Lotte Corporation said the woman was taken to an emergency room within the mall and then later transferred to a nearby hospital. X-rays at the hospital showed no major injuries. The woman, however, plans to get detailed examination at a hospital near her home.

“We are currently looking into determining the exact cause of the incident and whether it was a result of a faulty part or if there was a problem with the way the door was installed,” said a Lotte Corporation official. Lotte added that it will inspect the other 94 doors.

The incident Saturday has once again raised questions over Lotte World Mall’s construction and safety standards.

The mall has been mired in controversy four times this month alone.

On Dec. 9, a seven-centimeter (2.7-inch) crack was found in the facility’s 11,000-square-meter (118,000-square-foot) aquarium. The aquarium, which Lotte claims is the largest in Korea, also contains a 154,000-volt power substation, which could have led to a major disaster.

Three days later, the movie theater was partially closed for a safety inspection after several moviegoers complained that their seats and the screen were shaking and that noises from adjacent theaters could be heard.

On Dec. 16, a 51-year-old construction worker was killed in the mall’s concert hall after a fatal fall. His was the second death to hit the complex this year and third total.

Lotte is suspected of calling a hospital instead of the emergency services in order to cover up the accident. The company was also publicly criticized for its slow response in attending to the worker.

This year was supposed to mark a new beginning for the retail giant Lotte Group, with the opening of its long-anticipated Lotte World Mall.

Since the mall’s open in late October, roughly 220,000 people are estimated to have visited the complex each week; 85,000 during weekdays and 144,000 on weekends.

In an attempt to salvage its reputation, the company named Lotte Mart CEO Nho Byung-yong as the new CEO of Lotte Corporation, who will be tasked with seeing the completion of the mall by 2016. The complex was originally estimated to generate 1.5 trillion won in annual revenue and 3.4 trillion won in economic effects.

BY CHAE YOON-KYUNG, LEE HO-JEONG [ojlee82@joongang.co.kr]

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