A labor union official attempted self-immolation outside a court in the eastern coastal city of Gangneung on Monday, just hours before he was scheduled to attend a pretrial detention hearing on charges of business obstruction.
The 50-year-old man doused himself in flammable liquid and set himself on fire at around 9:35 a.m. in front of a district court in Gangneung, 163 kilometers east of Seoul, fire officials said.
He sustained serious burns and was taken to a nearby hospital, but remained unconscious, they said. He was later airlifted to a burns specialist hospital in Seoul.
The man was still in critical condition as of Monday evening, according to sources.
Unionized construction workers stage a rally in front of the local branch of the Chuncheon District Court in Gangneung, 163 kilometers east of Seoul, on May 1, 2023, after a union official attempted self-immolation just hours before he was scheduled to attend a pretrial detention hearing on charges of business obstruction.
He is an official of the local chapter of a nationwide construction workers' union under the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU).
He was scheduled to attend a detention hearing at the court at 3 p.m.
The local prosecution earlier requested arrest warrants for him and two other union officials on charges of obstructing business by forcing the hiring of union members between May 2022 and February this year.
Later in the day, the Gangneung branch of the Chuncheon District Court denied the issuance of arrest warrants against the three officials.
"Given that there is no risk of evidence tampering or flight, there is no justification or necessity for detention," the court said in a statement.
The KCTU released the suicide note he left for his fellow members.
"I have engaged in union activities in a just and innocent manner, yet I am being charged not with the violation of the assembly and demonstration law, but with obstruction of business and blackmail. My self-esteem cannot permit this," he wrote.
Upon hearing the news of his self-immolation attempt, about 500 union members who were attending a Labor Day rally in Wonju traveled to Gangneung and held a protest in front of the court, condemning what they considered to be the government's suppression of labor unions
Source: Yonhap News Agency