Airplane pilot, 30s, recently broke up with girlfriend, unemployed in Jeju…uncooperative in investigation

The police have completed their initial investigation into Mr. A, a man in his 30s, who was arrested on suspicion of opening an emergency exit door (in violation of the Aviation Security Act) just before landing on an Asiana Airlines flight from Jeju to Daegu.

The police plan to summon the victim and related parties for further investigation today (27th), and a decision on whether to apply for an arrest warrant for Mr. A will be made by this afternoon.

Mr. A is suspected of pulling the door handle of the emergency exit of the Asiana Airlines plane, which was about to land at Daegu Airport at around 12:40 p.m. yesterday (26), and forcing it partially open.

Mr. A, who was arrested shortly after the plane landed, admitted to the crime, saying he “pulled the emergency exit ring,” but remained coy about his motive. We know that Mr. A was not under the influence of alcohol at the time of his arrest.

His mother, who came to the police station after being contacted, said that Mr. A, who lived in Daegu, had traveled to Jeju Island a year ago to live with his girlfriend, who had recently broken up with him. He was also reportedly unemployed during his long stay in Jeju.

Traces of the emergency opening and closing of the doorway of an Asiana flight that made an emergency landing at Daegu International Airport on Saturday afternoon. / Yonhap

The incident occurred when Asiana Airlines Flight안전놀이터 OZ8124 from Jeju to Daegu was landing at around 12:37 p.m., and Mr. A, who was sitting in an emergency exit seat, opened the emergency exit door at 700 feet (about 213 meters) above the ground.

A passenger reported that Mr. A pulled the emergency lever two minutes before landing, saying, “It’s almost time, why aren’t we arriving?” Mr. A then appeared to try to jump off the plane, and the flight attendant called out for help, saying, “Passengers, we need your help.

Mr. A reportedly did not intentionally ask for a seat next to the exit door. The flight was fully booked at the time, but when a cancellation occurred, Mr. A, who was a standby passenger, was assigned a seat by the door.

Asiana Airlines has stated that it will not sell seat 26A on the Airbus A321 aircraft where this incident occurred unless it is fully booked. The decision was apparently based on the fact that it is difficult for flight attendants to control in case of an emergency, as the emergency exit lever can be reached without unbuckling the seat belt.

Meanwhile, Article 23 of the Aviation Security Act stipulates that passengers must not tamper with doors, exits, or devices on board an aircraft, and that violations are punishable by up to 10 years in prison.