By Yoon Ja-young
People with front loading washing machines were worried over news that a housewife was severely burned due to an explosion while using one made by LG Electronics.
An early investigation, however, showed that it was a gas explosion, not an explosion in the appliance. Now LG Electronics is pondering on how to improve its product image that was damaged due to the false report.
The incident took place at an apartment in Hamhan, South Gyeongsang Province, on Oct. 21. The woman’s husband, identified as Hwang, reported to police that the 12 kilogram capacity washing machine, manufactured by LG Electronics in 2009, suddenly exploded while his wife was using it on the balcony. The victim had serious burns and has been getting treatment at a nearby hospital.
The National Forensic Service, however, tentatively concluded Tuesday that it was an LPG gas explosion, not the washing machine.
“The tentative conclusion is that there was leak of a LPG gas from a pipe. First of all, there was no laundry in the machine, and there was no mark of water having been used. It means the washing machine wasn’t working at the time,” said an industry source who was privy to the investigation. He added that the victim seemed to have been near a gas oven, not on the verandah where the washing machine was located. The LPG gas was linked to a gas water boiler and then to the gas oven.
LG Electronics has said from the beginning of the incident that washing machines can’t explode. “There is no such thing as an explosion of these products. They don’t use gas or have inflammable material. The product simply conveys power by turning a motor, using electricity, and there is no combustion. That’s why we insisted from the beginning that it (the explosion) wasn’t likely,” a representative for LG Electronics said. He said that an explosion of any electric washing machine, regardless of brand, was highly unlikely.
However, the news report already damaged LG Electronics.
“We hope that the National Forensic Service will soon have an official announcement of the analysis. We expect it won’t take very long,” the representative for the company said. He worried that the brand image would suffer more if people don’t listen to the report. “But where can we seek compensation for it? There is no way. We have only to focus on making better products,” he said.
LG Electronics’ front loader washing machine was recently selected as the top washing machine by Altroconsumo, an Italian consumer magazine. After comparing 11 washing machines in the Italian market in various categories such as washing, drying, washing time, energy and water consumption, and consumer convenience, it gave 65 points to the LG product, higher than European electronics brands AEG and Electrolux.