Man Who Opened Asiana Plane Door in Mid-Air Tells Police He Was ‘Uncomfortable’

By Reuters
May 28, 2023Asia & Pacificshare
Man Who Opened Asiana Plane Door in Mid-Air Tells Police He Was ‘Uncomfortable’
Asiana Airlines' Airbus A321 plane, of which a passenger opened a door on a flight shortly before the aircraft landed, is pictured at an airport in Daegu, South Korea, on May 26, 2023. (Yonhap via Reuters)

SEOUL—A passenger on an Asiana Airlines flight told police he opened a door on the plane minutes before it landed in Daegu, South Korea, on Friday because he was “uncomfortable,” Yonhap News Agency reported.

The man, in his thirties, was detained on landing. He told police that he opened the door because he “wanted to get off the plane quickly,” Yonhap said on Saturday, citing the Daegu Dongbu Police Station.

He also told police he was stressed after losing his job recently.

Reuters could not immediately reach police at the station.

The man opened the door when the plane was about 700 feet (213 meters) above the ground, causing panic onboard.

Nine passengers were taken to hospital with breathing issues. They were all discharged after about two hours, a fire department official said.

The Daegu District Court on Sunday issued an arrest warrant for the man on charges of violating the Aviation Security Act, saying there was a risk he may try to flee before trial. The warrant allows police to keep him in custody longer.

He was not charged at the hearing.

Officials gave the man’s surname as Lee but not his full name, as is the usual custom.

A video aired on television, reported to have been taken by a passenger, showed the moments before the landing, with a door open and wind rushing in as passengers sat nearby.

Jin Seong-hyun, a former Korean Air cabin safety official, said that as far he knew, the incident was unprecedented, but that passengers have opened emergency exits without authorization while planes are on the ground.

A South Korean Transport Ministry official said on Friday that it was possible to open emergency exits at or near ground level because the pressure inside and outside the cabin is similar.

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