News Risk Management28 Nov 2018

South Korea:KT fire sparks chaos, sends users in central Seoul into dark ages

28 Nov 2018

A fire that damaged equipment belonging to the leading wireless and fixed-line services provider in central Seoul on Saturday took out a wide range of electronic services in affected areas, highlighting the risks of vulnerability to infrastructure damage in a super connected city.

Phone and internet services, cash machines and in-store payment systems provided by KT were paralysed in parts of the capital after the incident, which broke out in the basement of a KT building in Ahyeon district, according to authorities.

It took about 10 hours for the blaze to be completely put out, reported the Korea Herald. No casualties were reported.

The network downtime affected mostly western Seoul and parts of Goyang in Gyeonggi province near the capital, with services remaining unavailable or spotty as of Sunday.

As landline phone services were also affected, some police and fire stations were impacted as well. Some police stations sent their officers to the Seoul Metropolitan Policy Agency to listen for reports via radio messages. Affected fire stations relied on their online command systems to receive notification of emergencies.

Stores and restaurants which used KT for their payment systems also suffered loss of customers, who left without buying anything if they did not have cash. Some ATMs were also affected, preventing people from withdrawing cash.

KT gave assurance that medical institutions like affected hospitals will get priority as it goes about restoring services, a hospital official said Sunday afternoon.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the authorities have said it will likely take at least one week to fully normalise the systems.

KT said it is looking into the exact cause of the fire.

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