Coupang Distribution Center fire discloses its bad practices
A fire broke out at 5:35 a.m. on June 17th at the Coupang Deokpyeong Distribution Center in Icheon-si, Gyeonggi-do. Within twenty minutes of receiving the report, the fire department issued a “second-stage response” warning to mobilize firefighters and equipment from about six local fire stations.
The fire was fully extinguished on June 22nd six days after the first report was filed on the 17th. All of the buildings had burned down and only their skeletons remained. Firefighter Kim, 119 rescue leader of Gwangju Fire Station, who was isolated on the second floor of the distribution center after trying to extinguish the fire, was found dead on the 19th.
The fire department’s CCTV analysis report estimated that the fire started when a spark first ignited at the fan outlet above a display shelf. It also confirmed that the sprinkler did not work.
An employee of Coupang testified that Coupang ignored the initial report of the fire, but as the investigation proceeds, testimonies are coming out that the employee’s disclosure is false, indicating a dispute. Mr. A, who was working as a hub manager on the first floor at the time of the fire, said in an interview that contrary to media reports, he and his colleagues went out to put out the fire with fire extinguishers, and other managers immediately evacuated the scene to an open space to identify the number of people.
In the meantime, problems are being raised about the poor conditions of workers working in distribution centers. A short-term worker at the center said that he had no time to go to the bathroom or to rest because of repeated packaging and transportation of boxes. In addition, the center was not equipped with a heating system in winter even though water freezes in the toilet.
On the day of the fire, Kim Beom-Seok, chairman of Coupang Inc., resigned from his position, raising public opinion that it is irresponsible and untrusty. Experts say that the resignation of Kim, Coupang’s decision-maker, is a regular escapism strategy to exercise authority and not take responsibility.
Coupang is receiving negative views from the consumers due to the COVID-19 collective infection, poor working conditions, and deaths from overwork. Consumers responded with the movement of withdrawing from Coupang by posting articles such as a screenshot of the Coupang membership withdrawal screen with hashtags such as #CoupangWithdrawal and #CoupangBoycott.
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