South Korean police on Friday detained a passenger on suspicion of pulling the door of an Asiana Airlines plane carrying 194 people, right before the aircraft landed at the Daegu International Airport, official said.
After departing from Jeju Island, the plane was on its way to Daegu, 237 km southeast of Seoul, when the exit door suddenly opened, according to airport officials.
The plane shortly landed with the door open, Yonhap News Agency.
The aircraft was about 250 metres above ground when the door opened, the officials said.
None of the 194 people aboard fell out of the plane or were hurt, but 12 passengers showed symptoms of breathing difficulty and some of them were taken to a hospital, but none were in serious condition.
According to the police, when the suspect tried to pull the lever of the door, flight attendants were not able to stop him because the plane was about to land.
Police said he was not drunk at the time of detention, but remained tight-lipped about why he did so.
"It is difficult to have a normal conversation with him," a policen official said. "We will investigate the motive of the crime and punish him."
Police said he was travelling alone.
According to witnesses, the suspect attempted to jump out after opening the door.
"Flight attendants shouted for help from male passengers and people all around clung to him and pulled him in," a witness said.
Among the passengers were 48 elementary- and middle-school athletes scheduled to compete in a national sports event on Saturday in the nearby city of Ulsan.
"Children quivered and cried in panic," the mother of one of the athletes said. "Those sitting near the exit must have been shocked the most."
Another 44-year-old passenger said a door in the middle of the left side of the plane opened with a detonating sound about 10 minutes before landing.
"It was chaos with people close to the door appearing to faint one by one and flight attendants calling out for doctors on board through broadcasting while others were running down the aisle in panic," the passenger said.
"I thought the plane was blowing up. I thought I was going to die like this."20230526-135603