Two Killed, 16 Injured In Korean Nightclub Balcony Collapse


Two people died and 16 were injured, including athletes taking part in swimming’s world championship, after a balcony collapsed under the weight of party-goers at a South Korean nightclub, police said Saturday.

The balcony at the Coyote Ugly club close to the athletes’ village was a mangled wreck after it gave way and plummeted around five metres (16 feet) onto people below, sending hundreds of terrified clubbers running to the exit screaming.

Eight athletes including an Olympic gold medallist — US water polo player Kaleigh Gilchrist, who won at the Rio Games — were caught up in the tragedy.

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“An internal balcony collapsed at a club in Gwangju, killing two,” said Song Gi-ju, a detective with the Gwangju Metropolitan Police Agency.

“We have a total of 16 injured and among them 10 are foreigners. Of the 10, eight are athletes participating in the championships.”

Song said the two dead were locals and not involved in the swimming championships, adding that police were investigating the possibility the balcony may have been illegally constructed.

The owner of the club — which was packed with more than 300 people as the balcony crumbled — will be investigated on charges of accidental homicide, police added.

The eight injured athletes include three Americans, two New Zealanders, one Dutch, one Brazilian and one Italian.

“A structure collapsed all of a sudden with people standing on it. Screams filled the area with broken parts flying all over,” said a 32-year-old who was injured in the collapse, according to South Korea’s Kukmin Ilbo newspaper.

“The site of the collapse was at the centre of the club where customers were most heavily located,” said the party-goer, surnamed Kim.

– ‘Awful tragedy’ –
A 38-year-old and a 27-year-old were rushed to hospital in grave condition but both died from their injuries, according to local media.

The world championships organising committee said most of the athletes were treated for minor injuries and have returned to their accommodation.

USA Water Polo said Gilchrist suffered a deep left leg laceration and underwent surgery Saturday at a Gwangju hospital.

Fellow US water polo players Paige Hauschild and Johnny Hooper were given stitches for an arm and hand injury respectively, it said.

“This is an awful tragedy,” said Christopher Ramsey, CEO of USA Water Polo.

“Players from our men’s and women’s teams were celebrating the women’s world championship victory when the collapse occurred. Our hearts go out to the victims of the crash and their families.”

Ramsey added that all the American water polo players were “safe”.

The Australian water polo team were also present but escaped without injury.

The New Zealand men’s captain told Radio Sport: “We were just dancing and then the next minute we dropped five or six metres and everyone started rushing out of the club after that.

“We, I guess, fell on top of the heads of other people that were beneath us.”

Swimming’s world body FINA said it would “activate all measures to ensure health care and assistance is provided whenever necessary”.

“FINA deeply regrets the situation and sends its best wishes to any victims of this accident,” it added.

The world championships end on Sunday.

Husband Accuses Korean Air Heiress Of Abusing Child

Former Korean Air (KAL) executive Cho Hyun-Ah surrounded by journalists after receiving a suspended jail sentence at a court in Seoul.  Jung Yeon-je / AFP


The husband of a Korean Air heiress known for a “nut rage” tantrum that sparked uproar in South Korea has accused his wife of abusing him and their young children, police said on Thursday.

Cho Hyun-ah shot to international infamy in 2014 when she lost her temper over the way she was served nuts in first class before takeoff from New York.

She was sentenced to a year in prison for hampering an air route after ordering the Seoul-bound Korean Air plane back to the gate so she could have a flight attendant ejected.

The attendant, along with a colleague, had served her macadamias in a bag rather than a bowl — prompting Cho to order them to kneel and beg for forgiveness.

She was later cleared on appeal and served just five months.

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Her husband, surnamed Park, said Cho had been physically and verbally abusing his family, including their five-year-old twin sons, since she was released from jail in 2015. He filed charges against Cho — who denies the allegations — on Wednesday.

“He is suing her for child abuse and inflicting of bodily injury, among other things,” an officer at the National Police Agency told AFP.

Park, a plastic surgeon, and Cho — who married in 2010 after meeting in elementary school — are in the process of divorcing.

He shared photographs of his neck and toe wounds with a local TV station, claiming they were inflicted by Cho and said he had submitted photos and video footage of the abuse to police.

His wife repeatedly “strangled him” and threw a tablet PC at him, injuring his toe, he told authorities.

Park also claimed Cho threw spoons and chopsticks at their young children for “not eating quickly enough” and verbally abused them for “not falling asleep”. He is seeking full custody of the boys.

A spokesman for Cho’s law firm Sejong denied the allegations, claiming Park is an alcoholic and therefore his memories are flawed. He has been hospitalised for alcoholism three times during their marriage, the firm said.

“We are seriously considering filing a complaint against Park for defamation.”

Other family members of Cho, including her mother Lee Myung-hee and her sister Cho Hyun-min, have been accused of abusing their employees.

The alleged abuses range from cursing and screaming at staff members to kicking, slapping and even throwing a pair of scissors at them.

A series of scandals — including allegations over tax evasion and smuggling of furniture and food — have also left Cho’s father, Korean Air chairman Cho Yang-ho, facing mounting scrutiny that has riled the public and even sparked protests by the firm’s employees.


Bayern Partner Korean Football Association To Develop Talent

Players of FC Bayern Munich take part in a training session                                KARIM JAAFAR / AFP


Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich said Monday they have formed a partnership with the Korean Football Association as part of a strategy that could help the Bavarians uncover young talent in Asia.

“There’s a plethora of youth structures and talent there. Korea is one of the leading Asian countries in this area, so this partnership is an excellent fit for FC Bayern,” said the German club’s board member Joerg Wacker.

The deal is the second such cooperation with an Asian association, after a similar partnership signed in May 2018 with the Japan Football Association.

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Myung-bo Hong, KFA executive director and South Korea’s most capped player, said the move was a “great opportunity, not only for our players, teams and coaches but for the whole of Korean football”.

The two sides will develop special programmes, including friendly games between youth teams and training camps.

Besides the two partnerships with Asian federations, Bayern also run five football schools in Asia as part of their youth development programme.

South Korea’s Under-23 team won last year’s Asian Games.


Pope Tells South Korean Faith Leaders To Promote Reconciliation

Pope Francis called on South Korean religious leaders to promote reconciliation and spurn violence and fear on Saturday (September 2), at a meeting which took place amid a tense standoff on their home peninsula.

Representatives of several religions met the Argentine pontiff at the Vatican, and listened to an address in which he said their work must begin by “rolling up our sleeves”.

“Religious leaders are … called upon to initiate, promote and accompany processes for the welfare and reconciliation of all people,” Francis told the 20-strong delegation.

Wealthy, democratic South Korea is technically at war with its poor, reclusive northern neighbour, which regularly threatens to destroy the South and its main ally, the United States.

The visiting leaders, who included a Buddhist, wore traditional religious costumes. The Vatican did not say which other faiths were represented at the meeting.

Kogi State Set To Become Hub Of Industrial Activities

Yahaya-Bello-Governor-Kogi-StateThe Kogi state Governor, Yahaya Bello, has expressed the determination of his administration to make the state a hub of industrial activities, because of its strategic location in Lokoja, the state capital.

Bello, made this known to journalists during his maiden visit to the Nigeria-Korean friendship Institute of Vocational and Advanced Technology (NKFI) in Lokoja.

The institute which is a technical/vocational school, is committed wholly to the training of youths, middle and skilled man power.

It was established in Lokoja in 2010, by the South Korean government in partnership with the government of Kogi state, aimed at deepening the bond of friendship between Nigeria and South Korea.

The Principal of the Institute, Gabriel Okewu, in his address of welcome, gave a rundown of the institute, including the challenges it has experienced; one of which he identified as land disputes with the state polytechnic.

“I wish to express the profound gratitude of the management and members of staff of this institute to your Excellency for the prompt response in granting the needed fund for the take-off of the institute.

“We remain deeply grateful for the noble gesture which will go a long way in paving way for eventual commencement of academics programme in the institute.

He further stated: “We have commenced the process of registration of the institute with the corporate affairs commission and as demanded by the note.

“Hopefully and by the grace of god, we shall collect the certificate soonest for onward transmission to note the head office for scheduling of the date for the resource inspection and accreditation of the Institute.

The governor in his reply lauded the Korean government initiative leading to the establishment of the institute, while he assured the management of his readiness to take the institute seriously.

“Kogi State is set to overtake every other states in Nigeria, we are ready to take our destiny into our hands, we have the political will to ensure that this Institute works well.

“We will make judicious use of it to impact knowledge and skills into our teeming youths to better their lives and contribute meaningfully to the development of the state and Nigeria at large.” Yahaya said.

At the end of the speeches the governor and some of his cabinet members present, were taken round each department of the institute.

Furthermore, Yahaya promised to resolve the lingering land dispute, and promised to fund the institute.

“Before our second year anniversary this institute is going to be assembling vehicles here and we shall have ‘Made in Kogi’ vehicles, machines, shoes, and ‘Made in Kogi’ almost everything.”

Meanwhile, the Special Adviser to the Governor, on Multilateral Donor Agencies and special projects/focal person on social investment programmes, Adoga Ibrahim, told journalists that the institute would be used as a foundation for industrialization in the state.

“Part of the initiative is to invite automobile plant companies to see how they can establish a plant In Kogi state and begin to assemble vehicles.

“Kogi state has about 100 million in the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN), which you have graciously approved and given directive for the establishment of cassava processing plant at Egbeda-Ega in Ijumu local Government Area.

“We have also brought Kogi indigenes who invented cassava processing plant which you are going to see in action today, and fish-drying machine fabricated by this institute.

“We have direct talk with Korean government through their embassy and we have gotten an invitation to host them in a couple of weeks in Abuja.

“To whom much is given much is expected,” Adoga Ibrahim added.