Saturday, March 08, 2008

William Kapoun Needs Help

William Kapoun
Before the fire.
(Image from Metropolitician)

I don't know William Kapoun personally, but the fire that trapped him in his apartment and burned him over some two-thirds of his body has reminded me of a danger that most of us, whether foreigner or native, face through living in Korea.

William Kapoun
After the fire.
(Image from Metropolitician)

As reported by Kang Shin-who, writing for The Korea Times, the twenty-six-year-old teacher "lived in an unsafe apartment" in which there was "no sprinkler system or fire alarm and he had only one exit, which was blocked by the fire." Lest one imagine that Mr. Kapoun freely chose this fire-trap apartment, note that these are the conditions under which very many people live in Korea, despite the otherwise modern conditions in this high-tech country.

The apartment that my family and I live in is only scarcely better, and I'm relieved that we live only on the second floor, from which we can safely leap if necessary.

I discovered Mr. Kapoun's plight through reading of him at Mike Hurt's blog, Scribblings of the Metropolitician, as well as at Robert Koehler's blog, The Marmot's Hole. I know Robert and have met Mike, and both of them link to the same website set up by Mr. Kapoun's family and friends requesting help with the cost.

My understanding is that originally, Mr. Kapoun was without insurance because his employer had no policy to cover him but that national insurance has been extended to cover some of his costs, as noted by Matthew Lamers in a Korea Herald article.

Mr. Lamers is the man who invited me to write the language column for the Korea Herald's foreign section, Expat Living, and I received this email from him yesterday:
I am writing to all Expat Living writers to let you know, if you didn't already hear, of a tragedy that happened on Feb. 25. An English teacher, Bill Kapoun, was critically injured in an apartment fire and is currently in intensive care with third degree burns over much of his body. After you include the cost of a Medivac back to the U.S., costs to his family are likely to soar north of $200,000.

If you could use your extensive social networks to spread awareness, it could potentially do a lot of help for this young man, and his family, too. A lot of fundraising events are in the works. I wrote an article yesterday, attached, for more information.

This also raises a lot of important issues that we sometimes overlook because of the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, such as medical insurance, smoke detectors, an escape route, and fire extinguishers.
I had already considered blogging about Mr. Kapoun's circumstances, and Matt's email convinced me to do so even though I don't know that my social network is especially extensive, but every little bit helps. Sun-Ae and I have made a financial contribution.

If you can help, then make your checks payable to the Help Bill Fund, and mail them to:
Help Bill Fund
P.O. Box 283
Bloomington, IN 47402
If you are living in Korea, then you can transfer funds directly into this account:
KB Bank
794002 04 03 1635
Warren Franklin-William Fund
More information is regularly forthcoming at the Save Bill Kapoun blog.

UPDATE: I regret to inform everyone that William Kapoun has passed away due to injuries sustained from the fire that left some two-thirds of his body burned. Apparently, he died yesterday (Saturday, March 8th) sometime after I had posted my blog entry. Details are available in this article from today's Korea Times (Kang Shin-who, "Foreign Teacher Dies of Injuries From Fire," Sunday, March 9, 2008). Thank you to any who may have contributed, for your generosity has helped Mr. Kapoun's family cover part of the hospital costs. According to the article, 60,000 dollars has been donated, which is a pretty substantial portion of the estimated cost of 80,000 dollars. I'm sure that the family would appreciate help in covering the remaining 20,000 if any readers can spare the money. Again, thank you.

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At 9:27 AM, Blogger jeanie oliver said...

I read the blog about Bill. I went to the website that his sister has set up and made a donation there via paypal. This situation reminds me how lucky my kids and I are as our house burned in 1993. The kids and I were there at the time and were unharmed. Also, without the fine insurance provided by the coop for Eddy, I would never have had my condition diagnosed. I have a soapbox about everyone deserves medical care, free medical care. Since that is not possible for Bill, I was glad to help.

At 9:48 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Jeanie. I guess that my "social network" is more extensive than I had imagined.

Perhaps others will also be able to help.

By the way, I didn't know that your house had burned down, but I suppose that I was often out of touch in my long years overseas. I'm glad that you and your family were unharmed.

Jeffery Hodges

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