For this blog post assignment, I would like to discuss briefly about the ethics involved in engineering.
In June 1995, South Korea witnessed one of the most tragic calamities the country has ever experienced. The Sampoong Department Store collapsed resulting in the death of 502 people and sustained injuries of 937. The collapse was mainly due to a structural failure. The loss of human lives on that day could have been prevented or at least minimized if the management had handled the situation responsibly in a timely manner.
The building, which was originally designed to be an office building, was redesigned to be a department store. Later, the owner added another floor to the building. The redesign involved cutting away a number of building supports to install the escalators. The plan to redesign was rejected by the initial contractors due to the risks involved in the redesign but the chairman of the building, Lee Joon, fired them and hired his own company to reconstruct the building.
On the day of collapse, civil engineering experts discovered some cracks that revealed the high risk of collapse. However, the owner of the building continued operating the stores and tried to cover up the evidence of the structural failures. Due to the failure to take action and evacuate people when the danger was revealed, the casualties from the collapse reached overwhelming 1400 with the fatalities of 500.
This tragic event is a good example of unethical decisions that resulted in the mourning of many families and the loss of much property. Many faced imprisonment for negligence and bribery after the incident.