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“Suspicious Men” Abound in Officetels

Posted September. 01, 2005 07:09,   


At 3:30 p.m. on August 20, on the fifth floor of L Officetel in Seocho-dong, Seoul, a man in his early 30s pulled some doorknobs of different houses and disappeared into an emergency staircase.

On another day, at around 5:00 a.m., a man in his late 20s pulled some doorknobs and entered a house.

These cases were found through examination of CCTV at an officetel where a murder occurred. A police officer said, “I was surprised to find that so many neat-looking people are pulling doorknobs as if they do so for fun.”

This finding has made residents anxious. Merchants who sell anti-crime equipment are enjoying booming business.

Somebody is Pulling my Doorknob to Try to Open the Door-

A resident An (28) of H Officetel in Teheranro, Yeoksam-dong, Seoul, the other day woke up to the sound of the door opening. When An asked, “Who is it?” there was no answer, so he made nothing of it.

A few days later, similar incidents happened again, and Mr. An made no sound and looked outside through the screen of an interphone. When An asked “Who is it?” a guy wearing a cap hurriedly disappeared.

It is common that in officetels people frequently come and go all day long. It is difficult to exclude the possibility that thieves or heinous criminals can frequent officetels. That explains why residents have to remain alert at the occasional sound of pulling doorknobs.

We Need to Defend Ourselves-

Ms. Song (27), a resident of C Officetel in Janghang-dong, Goyang-si, the other day went to work after closing the cap of her digital door key, only to find the cap opened when she returned home. So she placed an additional key in the door just in case.

The murder that happened in L Officetel occurred since the victim failed to close the door properly. Since the incident, some 110 households out of 317 have put additional keys on their doors.

A police officer said, “It seems that the scant regard for safety is widespread among residents of newly built officetels, because of the false relief resulting from the installment of digital pass, CCTV, and digital keys.”

Kang Seong-gwon, director of the Investigation department of the Seocho police office, said, “In officetels where residents are mostly single men and women, it is difficult to get help from neighbors in case of emergency such as crimes, since the communication among neighbors are blocked. Therefore, individuals have to secure their own safety.”

Jae-Young Kim jaykim@donga.com