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Another parcel delivery worker dies apparently from overwork

A parcel delivery worker died while on duty this week, the latest in a series of couriers' deaths largely blamed on overwork amid an industry boom due to the coronavirus.

An advocacy group said Thursday that Kang Doo-han, 39, who was contracted with CJ Logistics, collapsed at a hub terminal near Seoul at 11:50 p.m. on Tuesday. He was sent to a hospital but died at 1 a.m. on Wednesday, it said.

Kang is the 13th worker in the industry who has died this year, at a time when the pandemic has led to a surge in online orders and shipment volumes.

According to his family members and activists, the deceased suffered from extremely long hours of work just before his death.

He worked from 2 p.m. on Sunday to noon on Monday. He went back to work at 5 p.m. on Monday and continued to work before collapsing the following night, they said.

"The deceased usually worked at night. He was pressed hard for time and continued to work for several days without taking proper rest," said the group working for the rights of delivery workers.

The man had heart problems but the overwork is presumed to be the direct cause of his death, it added.

Also on Thursday, the chief executive of CJ Logistics apologized for its workers' deaths. Including Kang, six workers contracted with the company have died this year.

"We apologize for the successive deaths of couriers. All members of management of CJ Logistics are taking this situation seriously and working hard to prevent a recurrence," CEO Park Keun-hee said during a news conference at the company's building.

The company announced measures to prevent their overwork, including a plan to increase the number of workers assigned to sorting of packages to 4,000 from the current 1,000 in stages starting next month.

Delivery workers complained they spend half of their hours on sorting and that they do not receive proper compensation for the work.

CJ also promised to have all parcel workers benefit from industrial accident insurance within the first half of next year.

About 80 percent of the nation's delivery workers are exempted from the insurance. A government probe found that a recently deceased CJ worker's application to be exempted from insurance coverage was written by someone else.

The government is inspecting major delivery companies to look into whether there are similar manipulations, possibly by branch operators, to avoid paying insurance premiums. (Yonhap)