On the day of the collapse, a dramatic increase in the
number of cracks occurred, which forced managers to close the entire top floor
and shut down air conditioners. Regardless of this dangerous development and
warnings from executives to immediately evacuate the building, the store
manager refused to issue formal evacuation order due to the high number of
customers that day and not wanting to lose a potentially high revenue.

Knowing that this collapse resulted in 502 deaths and 937
non-fatal injuries, the store manager could have easily saved the lost lives
and prevent the injury of the rest by simply listening to the executives.
Letting go of the greed and eagerness to earn more money despite being warned
was a selfish decision by Lee Jon.

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Additionally, the entire building was designed to only sustain
four floors and not five. Despite the construction company refusing to give
their consent for the addition of an extra floor, the store hired another
company to execute his plan. The fourth floor columns were 20 cm shy of
withstanding an additional top floor (80 cm) although the building remained
standing for 5 years.

On top of that, the reinforced bars were misplaced 10 cm for
the slab edge, meaning 5 cm off the required position. This misplacement
results in a 20% strength loss for the slab and thus become a strong
contributor the reduced strength of the RC frame. Floor heating systems
installed on the fifth floor resulted in thicker a thicker slab and therefore
more stress on the 4th floors RC columns.

Despite all the structure weakening factors stated above,
they were not the main cause of the collapse surprisingly.

Reasons

The main reasons of the collapse were simply not following
the building plans. An additional floor was built without the approval of the
building company due to risk of collapse, yet it was built regardless. Also,
the additional floor was initially meant to be a skating rink but was became
instead a traditional Korean restaurant. A traditional Korean restaurant
doesn’t use for the customers, instead they sit on the floor and for their
comfort, heated floor were implemented. The heated floors added four extra feet
of thickness to the fifth floor slab. It was also found that the top floor
columns were not aligned with the columns of the floor beneath, leading to bad
weight distribution (column to slab and then to another column, rather than
directly from column to column).