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'Violent crimes induced by noise disputes increased tenfold since 2016'

Dec. 6, 2023 - 14:46 By Yoon Min-sik
Members of the Citizens' Coalition for Economic Justice hold a press conference in Seoul on Wednesday, about their analysis of the complaints and crimes related to feuds concerning inter-floor noise. (Yonhap)

The number of violent crimes developing from apartment noise disputes rose 10-fold from 2016 to 2021, a report by a local civic group showed Wednesday.

There were 11 court cases of violent crimes that were related to noise feuds between neighbors in 2016, but the number increased every year, reaching 114 in 2020, according to the analysis of the local courts' verdicts by released by the Citizens' Coalition for Economic Justice. It dipped slightly back down to 110 the following year.

"Crimes related to inter-floor noise, and the damage inflicted by them are on the rise, but the government and the National Assembly has yet to address them. ... The government needs to reinforce monitoring for such issues, but the related policy remains insufficient," the group said in a press conference held in Jongno-gu, central Seoul.

Data shows that the number of complaints related to inter-floor noise is on the rise.

According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, there have been 32,296 cases of complaints filed to authorities from January to June of this year. There were 55,504 such complaints in 2022 having risen steadily from 32,875 in 2019.

The CCEJ claimed that the majority of such complaints are not properly handled by the authorities. The National Noise Information System provides services to address feuds related to inter-floor noises, such as consultation services and actually gauging the noise to determine how serious the issue is.

From April of 2020 to April of this year, 27,773 people filed complaints about noise issues, but 71.7 percent of them concluded with a telephone consultation while officials were dispatched to gauge the noise level in just 3.7 percent of cases.

Noise complaints between those living in higher and lower floors are a serious issue in Seoul because most families live in shared buildings.

According to the Seoul Research Data Service, 59 percent of the homes in Seoul are apartments, while another 29.6 percent live in multi-household residential buildings. South Korean law defines multifamily residential of five or more floors as apartments.

Research shows that stress induced from inter-floor noise can lead to violent, sometimes fatal actions. Scholars at the Korean National Police University recently released an analysis of the 69 murder cases in which inter-floor noise complaints were a contributing factor from 2013 to May of 2021, which showed that 53 of them were unplanned and occurred on the spot.

In 2021, a 35-year-old man made headlines when he murdered a couple who lived upstairs with a knife, while inflicting severe injuries to the victims' parents who were at the scene. He told police that he committed the crime due to noise from upstairs.