Man who opened airplane exit door mid-flight ‘felt suffocated’ inside cabin and ‘wanted out’: police

A man who opened the emergency exit door of an Asiana Airlines plane during a flight in South Korea earlier this week felt “suffocated” inside the cabin and “wanted out quickly,” local authorities said Saturday.

The passenger, described by the Yoonhap News Agency as a 33-year-old male who was traveling alone, was arrested Friday afternoon shortly after the Airbus A321 landed at an airport in the city of Daegu, about 150 miles south of Seoul.

On Saturday, police said the still-unnamed suspect told investigators he had recently lost his job and was under a lot of stress.

“He felt the flight was taking longer than it should have been and felt suffocated inside the cabin,” a Daegu officer said, according to the Agence France-Press. “He wanted out quickly.”

The incident happened around 1 p.m. local time, shortly before the aircraft was scheduled to land.

Nobody was seriously hurt because of the low altitude of the plane, but 12 people were taken to a hospital with trouble breathing, according to the Transportation Ministry.

The incident — described by a passenger as “chaos with people close to the door appearing to faint one by one” — left some of the 194 people on board “in panic.”

“I thought the plane was blowing up,” the passenger told Yonhap. “I thought I was going to die like this.”