LG Electronics’ front-loading wachine machine is accident-prone, claiming the third child in two years.
By Park Si-soo
A seven-year-old child was found dead inside of a front-loading washing machine last week. It was the third such death of a child involving an LG washing machine. The child locked himself inside and suffocated, according to police in Daejeon, where the child lived.
"The machine in question is a model that can't be opened from the inside," a police officer said.
What led him to crawl inside remains uncertain, police added. His parents were out at the time of the accident, said an officer familiar with the case.
"I found him locked inside the machine after returning from school, which was at around 7:50 p.m.," an elder brother of the deceased was quoted as telling a 119 emergency official. "He had hid himself there several times while playing hide-and-seek with me."
Rescuers tried to resuscitate him but he died on his way to the hospital.
"Our washing machines have a warning label so we are not liable for the death," an LG official said. "However, we feel morally responsible for the accident that involved our product and have decided to install a latch that can be opened from the inside."
On Tuesday, LG Electronics announced a voluntary recall of some of its front-loading washing machines, including the 2007 model that was updated due to safety concerns. About 1.05 million machines are subject to the recall, an LG official said.
Installing a new lock system costs about 20,000 won to 30,000 won, so if all the machines are turned in for lock replacement, it would cost the company up to 30 billion won.
The LG official said that actual requests will likely be much lower in number.
On Sept. 9, 2008, a nine-year-old child suffocated inside a front-loading washing machine made by LG. About two weeks later, another nine-year-old died in a similar accident.
The accidents forced LG to adopt a new door design that makes it possible for a person locked in to open the door. The new design has been applied to all models of the company since October 2008.
The Korean Agency for Technology and Standards plans to kick off a nationwide campaign aimed at raising public awareness of the risks involved with such front-loading machines.