Coupang‘s warehouse in South Korea recently experienced a massive fire that burned for 4 days before it was finally put out. Unfortunately, the fire took the life of a firefighter in the process. And while the tragic story breaks the hearts of the nation, new details have emerged that allege Coupang’s neglect for their employees.
Coupang is a South Korean E-Commerce company that was founded in 2010. It quickly went onto become one of the nation’s biggest online marketplaces, often being referred to as the “Amazon” of South Korea. On Thursday June 17, the E-Commerce company’s warehouse located in Gyeonggi-Do experienced a fire, which was sparked by a power outlet in the building’s basement.
In an interview with KBS News, one of Coupang’s warehouse employees, Ms. A shared her personal testimony as someone who was in the warehouse at the time of the fire.
At around 5:10am for about 10 minutes, I kept hearing the fire alarm. However, everyone kept telling us that it was a system malfunction. That’s what the managers kept saying.
— Coupang warehouse employee Ms. A
This was not the end of the neglect shared on behalf of Coupang and their upper management staff. Ms. A continued by sharing that even after seeing the smoke evidence of the fire, her fellow co-workers ignored her when she asked them to call 911. Ms. A did not possess a cellphone at the time of the incident.
The area right before the first floor entrance was filled with smoke. When I asked the security guards to call 911, they told me that they would take care of it and told me to go home. They ignored me once again. I asked them what they were going to do if someone were to die in this accident, but even then they didn’t make a single call with their walkie-talkie.
— Ms. A
To add onto the overall infuriating situation, Ms. A shared that she went to another Coupang upper management staff to express her concerns about the smoke. When she asked them to call 911, she revealed that they laughed in her face.
The employee just laughed really loudly. Really big and loud, like ‘hahahaha.’ I told them about the evacuation broadcasts but again, they told me to stop with the gibberish and to go home.
— Ms. A
Ms. A then revealed that on top of the employee neglect, the company’s sprinkler systems failed to go off. She also shared her belief that if the company had called the fire department when she first asked, the results wouldn’t have been as devastating.
If the sprinklers had gone off, I’d assume that the clothes of all the workers who left work that morning would have been wet.
If they would have called 911 when it was first reported, I believe the fire would have been extinguished much earlier.
— Ms. A
In the process of putting out the massive warehouse fire, a firefighter tragically lost his life battling the flames. His body was recovered two days after the fire had ceased. With Ms. A’s testimony about Coupang and the tragic death of the firefighter, netizens have come forward to voice their anger towards the mega E-Commerce company, as many expressed their desires to boycott Coupang.
- “Crazy a**holes.”
- “Wow, Coupang is absolute trash….a few years ago, I did a leadership presentation with Coupang’s founder, but now I want to erase those memories of the dark history. It’s painful.”
- “Those a**holes killed an innocent firefighter. The ones who laughed and ignored the requests are the ones who killed him.”
- “Boycotting is the biggest blow. I don’t use them already so I can’t even boycott them”
- “If the alarm has a malfunction and an actual fire occurs, shouldn’t you double check the malfunctioning alarm, even if it’s not working? Especially since it’s a big building…”
- “Those crazy bast*rds, those a**holes. Because of the Coupang a**holes, a good firefighter lost his life. F*cking Coupang, you guys are murderers. I hope you guys fail as a company.”
- “I’m so glad I cancelled my membership. I signed the petition too.”
- “Do the workers think they’re looking after prisoners in a prison or something? They didn’t do their jobs…”
- “If you’re going to boycott Coupang, you need to boycott the other online marketplaces. I wonder what Coupang will say as a response to all this hate.”
- “Shouldn’t those employees be charged with something?”
Coupang has since stated that they would be cooperating with authorities as they look into this tragic case.