Field note #1. Death on the Seoul subway

A 19-year-old worker named Kim died on the job in Seoul yesterday, a day before his birthday. He was repairing the sliding doors (in place for suicide prevention) without the legally required two-person team because they were always understaffed and the work had to get done. Two minutes later when the train approached he was crushed to death, trapped on the wrong side of the sliding doors. There have been 3 near identical accidents in 4 years, all on Seoul Metro Lines 1 and 2 where sliding door maintenance has been outsourced to a subcontractor — a company that won the contract with the lowest bid, a company that has been recruiting graduating high school students to fill these high-intensity, high-risk, precariously low-wage jobs.

Mourners began leaving notes, much like the spontaneous shrine that drew thousands in Gangnam last week after a young woman was brutally murdered. There will be a vigil tonight at the GuUi station, Seoul Metro Line 2, to mourn and to protest against precarity of life.