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(LEAD) President Moon orders re-investigation of humidifier sterilizer case

All News 17:16 June 05, 2017

(ATTN: RECASTS lead to verify the case involved a multiple number of toxic sterilizers; UPDATES with more details, additional background in paras 3-10)

SEOUL, June 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday ordered a thorough investigation of a case involving toxic humidifier sterilizers that are believed to have left dozens of people dead and harmed many others, the presidential office said.

The order could lead to a reinvestigation of the case that started as early as 2008.

Chemical substances used in a range of products from local and global manufacturers were found to cause lung problems, but only after they presumably affected thousands of consumers between 2008 and 2011.

A district court here had ordered a local manufacturer to pay up to 100 million won (US$89,400) in compensation to each and every one of the 13 victims affected by its product.

Other producers have settled with their victims.

Still, many victims are said to be left out in the dark, partly due to their inability to prove damages and partly because of the manufacturers' reluctance to admit wrongdoing.

While meeting with his chief secretaries, President Moon said he was heartbroken because he has not been able to provide a solution to the issue, according to his spokesman Park Soo-hyun.

The president then told his staff to consider taking four specific steps that included the president's personal apology to the victims, apparently for the government's failure to protect them.

The four measures also included a "thorough investigation of the case that has already taken place" and efforts to prevent a recurrence of such an incident, the presidential spokesman told a press briefing.

President Moon has also offered to personally meet the victims, he added.


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