A Look Back at the Daegu Subway Fire in South Korea

On February 18, 2003, an arsonist set fire, destroying two trains and causing large casualties of 192 deaths and 148 injuries at Jungangno Station

Mr. K
5 min readMar 19, 2021


By 최광모 — Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34707111

Daegu is the fourth largest city in South Korea and located in Gyeongsang province. Daegu is also a popular destination for both local and foreign tourists. Although Daegu is a beautiful place to visit, a dark history had occurred in the city. A severe fire occurred on the subway known as the Daegu Subway Fire!

The incident angered the South Korean public and raised questions about the South Korean government's public transportation safety. Here is the story about the Daegu Subway Fire.

Chronological Events

“File:2003년 2월 대구광역시 대구 지하철 화재 참사 열차 내부 사진 Daegumetrofire02.jpg” by 최광모 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

A massive fire broke out on February 18, 2003, at Jungangno Station, Daegu Metro Line 1. The incident was started by Kim Dae Han 56-year-old unemployed former taxi driver. Kim Dae Han had suffered a stroke in November 2001 that left him partly paralyzed. Kim was dissatisfied with his medical treatment and had expressed sentiments of violence and depression.

At that time, Kim Dae Han was planning to kill himself. However, he wanted to kill himself in a crowded place rather than alone.

Kim boarded train number 1079 from Banwoldang Station to the end of Ansim Station at 9:53 a.m. local time carrying two cartons of milk filled with gasoline. Once inside the train, he tried to light a cigarette lighter that he had been carrying. Other passengers tried to stop him, but in a struggle, one of the cartons spilled, and the spark of the lighter grabbed the spilled gasoline.

In just two minutes, the train had spread to six carriages of the 1079 train series. The train, which was currently stopped at Jungangro Station, managed to bring passengers to safety. However, the…



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