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Originally published Tuesday, November 4, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Former custodian ID'd as man who set himself on fire at UW last week

The King County Medical Examiner's Office has released the name of a 61-year-old former custodian at the University of Washington who died after setting himself on fire in the UW's Red Square on Thursday. In Soo Chun died at Harborview Medical Center from second- and third-degree burns that covered 90 percent of his body.

Seattle Times staff reporter

The King County Medical Examiner's Office has released the name of a man who died Thursday after setting himself on fire in the University of Washington's Red Square.

In Soo Chun, 61, a former UW custodian, died at Harborview Medical Center from second- and third-degree burns over 90 percent of his body.

According to UW spokesman Norm Arkans, Chun had worked for the UW's Facilities Services from December 2005 to early summer of this year. He immigrated to the U.S. from Korea in 1977 and became a naturalized citizen in 1982.

After several "confrontational, but not necessarily physical" altercations with co-workers in June, Chun was reassigned from his usual work site in Padelford Hall.

Soon after those incidents, which Arkans said made Chun's co-workers "uncomfortable," Chun requested and was granted several weeks' vacation, after which he did not return to work.

The UW tried, unsuccessfully, to contact him throughout the summer.

On Aug. 25, when he came to campus to collect his paycheck, he was told he was being fired and had 10 days to seek reinstatement.

The UW offered Chun counseling assistance but he did not accept it, Arkans said.

Chun instead filed an unemployment claim with the state, which was denied. Chun appealed the denial at a hearing Oct. 24, Arkans said.

"The man was clearly a troubled individual, and I think everyone who's encountered this wants to be respectful" of the circumstances surrounding Chun's death, Arkans said.

Until the incidents at the beginning of the summer, Chun had been a good employee, Arkans said.

Will Mari: 206-464-2745 or wmari@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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