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Twelve people were slightly injured when the man opened the door of the Asiana Airlines Airbus A321 on Friday, causing air to blast inside the cabin.
The plane, which was flying to the city of Daegu from the southern island of Jeju, landed safely.
“He felt the flight was taking longer than it should have been and felt suffocated inside the cabin,” a Daegu police detective, according to The Guardian.
The man was detained by police in Daegu for allegedly violating the aviation security law.
If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison.
Yonhap said the man told police he had suffered stress after losing his job recently.
Other South Korean media carried similar stories on the man’s motive.
The reports said police requested a warrant to formally arrest him.
Reached by The Associated Press earlier, Daegu police officers refused to provide details about the man, citing privacy issues.
The plane was carrying 194 people including teenage athletes on their way to a track and field competition.
The man pulled the door open when the plane was reaching the Daegu airport at an altitude of 213 metres.
The people who were taken to hospitals were mainly treated for minor problems such as breathing difficulties.
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