SEOUL, Nov. 9 (Korea Bizwire) — Gosiwon are dormitory-style residential facilities that house a large number of people in a cramped maze-like space.
It is here that a series of fires have broken out recently, hurting scores and alarming officials and citizens alike.
The small rooms are usually 5 square meters in size and are connected in clusters with a common narrow hallway. Due to the layout of each floor, the rooms are extremely susceptible to fire hazards.
Being unable to put out a fire early on could lead to lives being lost as blazes can quickly travel from one room to the next.
According to the Korea National Fire Agency, 252 fires were reported at such dorm-like facilities out of 3,035 total fires that occurred at various commercial facilities between 2012 and 2017.
At 5 a.m. this morning, a fire was reported at a gosiwon in Gwansu-dong, Jongro-gu in Seoul, a blaze that killed seven people and injured 12 others.
More people are receiving medical treatment at a nearby hospital and the number of casualties is expected to rise. Similar instances of gosiwon fires have become rampant in recent history.
On November 21, one resident fell asleep while smoking in the room at a gosiwon in Goyang. Fortunately, a sprinkler went off and put out the fire immediately.
At a gosiwon in Busan, a fire forced 17 residents to evacuate the facilities in Busanjin-gu. No one was hurt in the fire but the incident incurred asset losses of 2 million won.
Because of the small spaces that gosiwon residents are crammed into, the facilities are higher at risk of being affected by fires compared to other residential complexes such as apartment buildings and multiplex housing complexes.
As property owners try to maximize profits by dividing larger rooms into smaller ones, the dangers associated with fires are also heightened.
The central government and local municipalities have taken action to prevent fires in gosiwon by performing spot checks.
The Ministry of the Interior and Safety recently carried out a safety check at a gosiwon in Norangjin, Dongjak-gu in Seoul in April, while the city government of Seoul funded the installation of sprinklers at aged gosiwon buildings.
H. S. Seo (firstname.lastname@example.org)