Man on a Ledge

So I went back to Chestville to reshoot some stuff with better sky conditions.

Notice something in this blowup?

Oh look, there seems to be a guy in an orange jacket sitting on the ledge over there.

My eyesight is weak enough that I could tell he was there, but couldn't see how perilously placed he was.

But I figured whoever he was, he'd be gone by the time I got up there.

This was the exact view he had, from a little more than a meter down, and with less light.

A few seconds after I took this picture, the police ran onto the roof and chased me out.

And here's the story as I wrote it right after it happened. For the rest of the evening, I was on edge, but knowing now all the details behind it, I'm no longer stressed about it.

Tonight around 5:50 I looked outside and saw the Sun close to setting, so I fed the cats, grabbed my camera and tripod, and headed out to reshoot a building down the street during the blue hour.

On the way, I ran into my landlord who brought me to a real estate shop so we could discuss my upcoming plans to move. After, I went up to the roof of the building (Yeonhui Chestville Officetel) and did the same shot I did last time, just with better conditions.

It's a nice shot looking up Yeonhui-ro toward Yonsei University and Ansan. Figuring prominently in the foreground are the twin towers of Brownstone Yeonhui Apart, which if you live in the area you probably know because of the Pizza School on the ground floor. At this time, there was a man on the roof; I didn't pay much attention because there are always people on roofs. He was standing still, probably enjoying the view, and, standing roughly 150 meters away, equally uninterested in me. He will be visible in my pictures as a small dot.

Anyway, I figured I might as well head over there anyway because it might present a nice view of the area comparable to my current view.

I went down there and walked around the building looking for the residential entrance. Although the building is skewed 45 degrees from the north-south axis I'm going to describe the side facing toward me in the earlier pictures as "south." I walked along the south side, directly under where I later discovered he would have been standing.

The entrance to the left tower is on the northeast corner, looking toward the other building. There was a cop car there with the lights out, which is strange because their lights are always on. It was parked in front of the building so I hesitated on going in; I also noted there was no security at the desk inside. I kept walking past, as the police officer got out of his car and hurried in my direction, past me, and around the corner running along the north side of the building with his eyes upward. I followed him as he got to the northwest corner, and I gave up and decided to head into the building.

There were people coming so I rushed in, got in the elevator, and hit the button for the top floor (13). A woman caught the door before I could leave and got in for 11.

Floor 13 opens directly out onto the roof, but it's not the roof proper, more of a rooftop garden surrounded by barricades that spoil the view. If you look at the pictures, it's the west side of the building, occupying about 1/3 of the total footprint.

I could see a landing above, and looked around for a way up there. Turned out there was one stairwell that led higher up, although there was an intimidating CCTV sign, but whatever, no one was at the desk to see me. I went up. The roof up there was nice, and if you look in my pictures you can see that dull brown trim along the edge fo the roof that crowns it. It was in every way a safe, fine rooftop, and I couldn't see a single camera, or another human being. I...didn't look around enough.

The brown trim here was a bit restrictive, but absolutely perfect for setting up a camera on a tripod and taking night shots. I took a whole bunch looking back at the Chestville. Every once in a while I thought I heard voices and I turned around, expecting someone to be coming up behind me to kick me out of the building.

Around the third time maybe five minutes after I'd arrived, I turned around to discover three men -- two of whom were definitely police, and a third who I assumed was building security, but more likely was a paramedic. They came right over to me and seemed very angry I was there. I'd never seen police on a rooftop before, so everything I know about the way the law works here was being contradicted. I've had this conversation before, rarely with police, and explained I was just there for pictures as I packed up. One cop told me it's dangerous up here, and kept saying something about a man. He went to where I was standing and looked directly out over the view I was photographing. I was in trouble, wasn't I? Why were they so on edge?

I got my tripod put away and headed for the door. I turned back to look at the three men, and I saw a fourth, standing hunched over in the brown trim, about a meter to the right of where I'd been standing. My eyes widened and I pointed him out to the police without making a sound and hurried out of there to get out of their way.

Down at the elevators, I pressed the button for one on its way up and it stopped on 13. A man who may have been security who spoke English well came out and asked about the jumper. I said I had been standing directly under him and pointed this new guy toward the right stairs to get to the proper rooftop.

I missed that elevator so caught the other one. On the way down, another guy got in and he made polite small talk about my camera equipment, wishing me a good evening as I got off at 1 (he went down to b3 and seemed totally unaware of the drama unfolding above us).

Outside, there was a fleet of emergency responders. They were on the north side of the building aiming their searchlights everywhere looking for the man on the ledge, including checking out the building's numerous mid-height ledges.

I went up to one guy and asked if any of them knew English. I tried explaining in broken Korean that the man they were looking for was on the other side. Eventually one responder came up to me who knew English, so I explained as best I could exactly where the guy was. He asked me a number of questions, as he didn't even seem certain if the man was on top of this tower or the other.

I followed him around to the far side, and I think I showed him a picture of the view I was trying to get to orient him in the right direction. We got to the corner and the responders aimed their spotlights upward. Just as I was able to show exactly where the man had been standing (there was no chance he'd be visible from below due to the overhang), they got the all clear over the radio. Everyone headed back, the English-speaking guy asked me if I lived there and I said no, that I was just there for pictures, and we parted ways. By the time I crossed the street, the last of the fire trucks was pulling away.

I went to Saruga to buy some groceries; I just needed to be somewhere completely normal for a few minutes. I haven't looked at the pictures yet, and since he survived and you can't identify him in the photos I'll probably post them.

Please remember that these photos are all copyrighted to me. If you want to use them in any way, there's a 90 per cent chance I'll give you my permission, and be able to give you a copy with a higher DPI.
Copyright Daehanmindecline 2013