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Incheon high-rise residents face summer without elevators

June 17, 2024 - 16:30 By Song Seung-hyun
A resident in her 70s climbs the stairs of an apartment building in Jung-gu, Incheon, on Thursday because the elevator is out of order. (Yonhap)

Imagine living on the 15th floor with the elevator out of order -- not just for a few days, but for the entire summer.

Residents of an apartment complex in Jung-gu, Incheon are facing this nightmarish scenario.

As of Monday, all 24 elevators in the 608-unit Life Beach Mansion are out of service after failing a safety inspection on June 5. According to local reports, many of the 34-year-old complex’s over 1,400 residents are seniors.

The elevator problem stemmed from the complex’s management failure to act on repeated orders to address safety concerns first reported in a 2021 inspection regarding missing safety parts.

The residents' association had been permitted to operate the elevators in 2021 on the condition that they go through necessary safety improvements. As no maintenance took place, the authorities instructed in January this year to install these safety parts within four months, but the complex failed to comply.

Now, the use of elevators is prohibited by law until it completes the necessary procedures — installing the missing parts and undergoing a new round of safety inspections — which could take months. Local reports said the resumption of elevator operations is unlikely at least until mid-August.

Any violation of the ban on operating the elevators, according to local law, could result in up to three years of imprisonment or fines of up to 30 million won ($21,000).

Following the grounding of the elevators, the complex's management belatedly commissioned maintenance work, but securing the missing parts is taking time, reports said.

Despite growing worries over the plight of Life Beach Mansion's residents, the authorities are staying principled, saying that making an exception for them would not be possible.

Given that hundreds of elevators nationwide have failed safety inspections this year, the government also perceives it as unfair to permit the temporary use of elevators.

The Jung-gu district office is trying to intervene in the dispute, as it is concerned about potential emergency situations.

“We plan to officially request the Ministry of the Interior and Safety to consider allowing elevator use during emergencies,” the Jung-gu district office said.