[Falling Again] 1136 deaths in a fall

Country/area: South Korea

Organisation: MBC

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 29 Jun 2020

Credit: Seungwoo Paik, Jaehyun Nam, Sero Kim, Seulgi Jang, June Won Lee, Myungji Choi, Byungwoon Kang, Hyunki Jung, Sungchul Park, Kyuhee Kim, Yuna Kim, Hayoung Kim, Sungsik Choi, Jooyeon choi, Yujung Lee

Project description:

[Falling Again] tracked 1136 deaths from a fall for last 3 years. As the most primitive accident happening in a work place, those deaths could have been stopped simply with safety belts, which had not been allowed to them for economic reasons. The most of deaths were too cheap to be protected; the cost for safety is more expensive than their lives. By looking through the record of their deaths and trials, we found the structural distortion behiend them.

Impact reached:

Death Tracking

After the coverage, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport asked us to give the data for reference, finally started to collect and manage the related data of all deaths in work places. The data will lay the foundation for preventing 3 deaths everyday that could’ve prevented.

Amendment to the Sentencing Guideline

The Korean Sentencing Guideline Council decided to raise up sentencing guidelines; 1 year to 2.5 years, if repeated in 5 years, up to 10.5 years after we questioned them if those guidlines were too low.

Coporate Kiiling Law

The Korea Coporate Kiling law was introduced last month. We are not saying that our reports were the only factor for it, however, we are proud of ourselves that we may have contributed to it.


Techniques/technologies used:

Google Sheet

Google sheet is the best friends of all. As almsot 10 people worked on a same page, collective tool is not a necessity but a essentials. Reading records of the death, we write them into several columns: where they worked, what postion they were in, what employment type they were, whether they had hard hats/safety belts, whether those who were responsible for their deaths has been punished, how much fine was, etc. It 


We used Sankey chart(D3) for showing the whole stories of 1136’s deaths. It’s very rare to use this chart in S.Korea. We used one because it tells the story in a sight. If you click one of the character they have, you can see what happend to them in a line. Not only sankey charts, we introduced various charts in an interactive for helping users undertand instinctly. 


For pointing out that final sentences are too weak for the cost of lives, we make a little game in the middle of interaction. Asking users “if you were a judge, who would you punish?; Comapy, or a individual? // How much fine would be enough? // Do you think improsoning neccessary?” with a specific example, we make them to compare with actual sentence, which is striking weak.  

What was the hardest part of this project?

No one has asked before. Those who are powerless, almost invisible were have been dying in work places, and they are fathers or sons of someone. Even no government agency has recorded  the death in work places fully in S.Korea; one has the photos of the site, other has a invetigation record, still other has a trial record. No one know the whole stories of their death. No one asked why.

We tracked 1136 deaths by requesting several agencies to give their separated records of their deaths, and sow them in line. It take 11 months to see what happend before and after their deaths due to different archiving system each institution has. We finally put the puzzle togther: from the reason to the punishment. The average fine for death is $5,000 and only 4 of responsible chiefs has got sentenced to imprisonment, too cheap for human lives. 

The data we made is the one and only completed story no one ever questioned; because those who died were the voiceless. That’s why we decided to open the data so that everyone in the field use them for the sake of the lives gone silently. After the reports, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, who were supposed to collect and manage the data, asked us to give them it alongside with civil orgainizations and civic hackers.


What can others learn from this project?

Fatigue works. When we fisrt started, a professor said; “Can you do that? I’ve tried it before… too much to handle”. As one of the top networks in S.Korea, our team thought the MBC is few to go through all the way. That was right, but was not easy; making the data never exsited before in the world, and putting up with pressure from the top(What took you so long? Do you think it attracts viewership?). The results was not sexy like scandals and fancy as corruption, however, it told us and felloews what journalist should be.


Project links: