81-year-old guy with dementia charged with setting hospital fire: report

Ye Olde Chosun is reporting that an 81-year-old man by the name of Kim has been arrested on charges with setting the fire at the convalescent hospital in Jangseong, Jeollanam-do that killed 21 and injured eight.

The man had previously been treated at the hospital for dementia.

The hospital’s CCTV apparently got Kim entering and leaving the room where the fire originated one minute prior to the start of the blaze.

I’m sure we’ll be learning more soon.

UPDATE: Kim was apparently still a patient. And police think he started the fire by setting bedding alight with a lighter, although why he did so, they do not know. For what it’s worth, the guy—who is apparently with it enough to undergo questioning—is denying the charges.

  • Bob Bobbs

    Now that is murder.

  • MikeinGyeonggi

    How was an 81 yr old dementia patient allowed the access to start a fire in a hospital? Where was the staff? Who signed off on the security and safety checks? Where were the security guards and nurses? All this fricken CCTV doesn’t do any good if the security guards are watching baseball on TV or outside sorting recyclables.

  • AllKpop<3Ailee'sBoobies
  • RElgin

    The administration wants to have two PMs, one running the domestic front, since they are realizing that they are dangerously low on credibility and need to solve that problem.

    I wonder how this will affect their security arrangements since they have to worry about non-ROK elements planning spectacular disasters so as to undermine their authority. That is why this episode was investigated with a bit more thought and quietly than the run-of-the-mill disaster.

    I am almost afraid we have entered a period of saboteurs and boat captains.

  • Lliane

    Well before getting two, they need one first, as the new one who has been nominated to fight corruption doesn’t seem that clean. It’s hard enough to find one non corrupted high level official, let alone two…

    “Former star prosecutor Ahn Dae-hee withdrew his nomination for prime minister,
    Wednesday.

    President Park Geun-hye nominated Ahn to lead an anti-corruption drive to deal
    with the aftermath of the April 16 Sewol tragedy.

    His withdrawal came amid controversy over a large amount of money he received
    as a lawyer after he retired as a Supreme Court justice.

    Ahn called an unscheduled news conference, saying that he was stepping down to
    save his family from further scrutiny.”

  • bumfromkorea

    It’s the eternal problem in politics (particularly accentuated in South Korea) – do you go with the probably corrupt but likely competent one, or do you go with the probably not corrupt but likely incompetent one? As modern South Korean history has repeatedly shown, both options often end in disasters.

  • bumfromkorea

    Apparently there were 3 people on staff for 300 people? Not cool. Even disregarding the fire, that’s nowhere near enough staff to take care of 300 fucking people.

  • brier

    Ahn Dai-hee bows out!

    http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2014/05/28/70/0301000000AEN20140528009051315F.html

    He is smart to do so. Politics are the dirtiest game in town. Sure, he made his coin the old fashion Korean way that has suddenly gone way out style fast. But he was competent and would have made a good PM.

  • bumfromkorea

    Jesus christ, this administration is falling apart.

  • A Korean
  • Krystal Hampton

    As I was traveling by bus to my school in Samseo, Janseong, I saw a lot of cars, KBS News van, police, and a bunch of tents outside of an elderly folks hospital. This hospital is out in the middle of nowhere; the only thing next to it is a warehouse and Sang Moo Dae (a military university). I asked the assistant bus driver what was going on. He told me there was a fire and that 3 people were dead. I guess that was the tally at 8:30am today. Sheesh.

  • Aja Aja

    I thought that was a good news for a change. It shows that at least they learned something after the 2003 Daegu subway fire, when the same thing happened when an angry arsonist set the car on fire. This time though, the fire didn’t spread rapidly like 2003, because the subway cars were swapped out with non-flammable seat materials. Now the copy cat suicidal maniacs will have to find another way to cause havoc and inconvenience. At least it’s some progress made amidst a sea of bad news.

  • 코리아

    As far as the staffing levels went, they’re not too far off from what (admittedly low quality) care facilities back in the States have over night. If anything we could say that the facility should have had sprinklers, fire retardant blankets, etc, but I honestly feel like this sort of death toll among bed-ridden, invalid patients could have happened most anywhere. Not that this is any sort of reprieve for Korea as much as it is a condemnation of elderly treatment conditions around the world.

  • bigmamat

    On the last thread that mentioned this story I suggested there was likely not enough staff. The report claimed some of the victims were strapped down. Under staffing is pretty common for lot of these kind of institutions. Just so everyone realizes this is not something unique to Korea.

  • redwhitedude

    Looks like this patient’s head isn’t the only that is going to be rolling.

  • bigmamat

    Absolutely.

  • bigmamat

    Ok now I just got this flash….this is getting surreal. Like an Asian horror movie where all the old people go quietly homicidal. Some crappy M. Knight Shyamalan joint since the actual violence isn’t gory enough to be Japanese. Damn, why does truth always out weird fiction.

  • Pingback: 2 Deadly Fires Kill 28 People In South Korea This Week | ROK Drop()

  • MikeinGyeonggi

    No, this is definitely not unique to Korea. But it is certainly uncommon among G-20 countries. Korea is a wealthy country and should be held to a higher standard.

  • MikeinGyeonggi

    I’m not an expert, but my mother is a geriatric nurse and I worked in nursing care facilities part-time when I was younger. Never have I heard of a 1:100 staff to patient ratio in the States, even for an overnight shift. That number is disturbing. I could understand it in a poor country, but Korea has the money and resources to improve.

  • Aja Aja

    This is where some of the increase in social welfare spending should be diverted, not to some wasteful school lunches which are electoral populism gone too far. The country is rapidly aging, yet the spending on the social welfare of the elderly has not kept up with the changes in demographics. South Korea is probably right now the most rapidly aging society in the world.

  • bigmamat

    I would say that even in the U.S. you will find different situations because geriatric care gets regulated at the state level other than what might be codified in order to receive medicare funds. I find that in the U.S, even within a state you can get different levels of professionalism of care.

  • bigmamat

    I agree Korea can fix this if it has the political will.

  • bigmamat

    Something like this could happen with state mandated staff levels. This is just something that can happen.

  • RElgin

    One A-hole down, too many left in Saenuri Dang.
    As I warned some years ago, the lack of credibility and reform is the real threat that must be dealt with. There are younger, smarter people than Ahn in Saenuri.
    (Unfortunately, most of the opposition party are apprentice boat captains.)

  • catmando1980

    The ones in the US aren’t a whole lot different. Show up around 1 am in any facility “caring” for the elderly-alarms going off for just about every room, patients hollering, and a couple of overworked,poorly paid, harassed workers trying to manage the situation. I don’t imagine Korea is any different. Who wants to do this work ? changing diapers, hurting your back moving inert patients, dealing with angry, upset, mentally unstable patients, Cleaning up all the nasty, disgusting messes they can make-all for very low pay, and plenty of abuse from the Families of the patients, who couldn’t handle them, and dumped them there in the first place.

  • redwhitedude

    You mean could not happen with state mandated staff levels.

  • redwhitedude

    It’s the do nothing administration because of constant shuffling of posts. Not a good sign.

  • redwhitedude

    Or something or somebody kicks them in the gut. That is certainly is happening with the Sewol disaster, the bus station fire, and now this. Collectively is a nasty reminder that Korea isn’t quite like other G20 countries yet.

  • bumfromkorea

    With the care facilities here, it’s a crapshoot. The more expensive the place is, higher the probability that it’s not gonna suck, but…

  • Aja Aja

    This is the 53 year old nurse, Kim Kwi Nam, who died trying to save the patients. She grabbed an extinguisher, tried to douse the fire, while yelling at everyone to leave right now. According to the article, she was well liked by all the patients. She also was caring for her own mother while doing a very difficult and stressful job, being employed at the nursing home.

    http://dimg.donga.com/wps/NEWS/IMAGE/2014/05/29/63845470.1.jpg

    http://news.donga.com/Main/3/all/20140529/63845471/1

  • bigmamat

    Honestly the state of nursing homes in the U.S. isn’t much better. It’s an industry just like any other where you get what you pay for. These places are notoriously understaffed and the turn over is high because they are underpaid for nasty back breaking labor. One of my son’s friends was working in the local convalescent center. She eventually quit. She was only about 19 or 20 then. She said lifting people was wrecking her back and she made a dollar over minimum wage. I won’t ever forget one of the other boys trying to shade her for “washing old guys balls”. She told him I hope someone gives you the dignity of bath when you get old and can’t do it for yourself anymore.

  • Aja Aja

    According to the same article, Korea doubled the number of nursing homes nationally since 2008 to 1262 hospitals in a mad dash to warehouse exploding elderly population, yet the quality of care and the number of doctors and nurses have not kept pace. Normally one nurse should be in charge of six patients in an ideal environment. But due to severe shortage of nurses caring for the patients, one nurse has to take care of over eleven patients, while some nurses are required to handle as much as forty-seven patients. The shortages are particularly acute during holidays and at nights which require nightshifts. As a result many facilities end up abusing the patients by tying the patients hands and feet, which means they won’t be able to escape burning buildings. Most facilities din’t have sprinkler systems because by law, they are not required. Many facilities had emergency exit doors blocked off due to poor design of the facilities. All these facilities desperately need fundings to improve on the safety which were overlooked to save on money. The only way to solve this crisis is they need to pump government money and start giving working Visa’s and hiring Filipino caregivers.

  • redwhitedude

    I’ve been in nursing homes and it is a high maintenance job that will wear out anybody. However this fire in the context of other disasters that have preceded it puts it a whole different context rather than isolated freak fire.

  • redwhitedude

    Sad another person dead that didn’t deserve it.

  • bigmamat

    Korea is having a bit of a come to Jesus moment.

  • RElgin

    One of my current projects has demonstrated to me that there is very little reward given for merit; everything revolves around connection and fix. There appear to be few exceptions.

  • bumfromkorea

    The blatant cronyism hiding behind the ‘아름다운’ 선배/후배 mentality is one of the major societal ill that the upcoming generation will have to fix.

  • bumfromkorea

    Rearranging the deckchairs on the Hindenburg? :)

  • redwhitedude

    The facade of safe is falling apart since as the Sewol investigation reveals that overloading the ship and sloppy non training of crew had been going on for quite a while.

  • redwhitedude

    And eventually the administration will fall in flames? You mean torch the national assembly building and the blue house? That’s something.