Iri Station Explosion

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The Iri Station Explosion was a disaster that occurred in Iri, Jeollabuk-do, South Korea on November 11, 1977, at 9:15 p.m. About 40 tons of dynamite carried in a freight train Gwangju exploded at Iri station. The cause of the explosion has been identified as human error; a candle left unattended by a guard who was under the influence of alcohol ignited the dynamites.[citation needed] The town and train station have both been rechristened as Iksan.


Deaths and injuries[edit]

The explosion killed 59 people and seriously injured 185 others;[1] altogether, over 1,300 people were injured. At the time, the population of Iri numbered around 130,000 people.[2]

Infrastructure and property[edit]

The force of the explosion carved a crater ten meters deep and thirty meters wide. Most structures within a 500-meter radius from the site of the explosion were severely damaged. Approximately 9,500 buildings were affected by the explosion, which left about 10,000 people without home. Residential apartment buildings, the city's first, were constructed to accommodate the displaced.[2]

Financial and political costs[edit]

Financial damage was extensive; property losses alone were estimated to be ₩23 billion won;[3] the government allocated ₩13 billion won for the recovery effort.[4][5]

Transportation Minister Choi Kyung-rok resigned soon thereafter.[2]

In popular culture[edit]

The film 2008 film Iri by Chinese-Korean director Zhang Lu uses the accident as a central motif.


  1. ^ "Emergency Management in Korea: Just Started, but Rapidly Evolving." Federal Emergency Management Agency. Retrieved on July 12, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c Han, Sungjoo (January 1978). "South Korea 1977: Preparing for Self-Reliance". Asian Survey. 18 (1): 45–57 [53]. doi:10.2307/2643183. JSTOR 2643183. 
  3. ^ 철도주요연표 (in Korean). 한국철도공사. 2010. p. 203. 
  4. ^ In 1977 wons.
  5. ^ Sellar, Gord (17 July 2008). "The Iri Yeok Explosion, and the Iksan Landfill Crisis". Who’s Complaining in Korea. Retrieved 12 July 2012.