Help! There's a cockroach: South Korean emergency services shames time wasters

South Korean policemen patrolling under cherry blossoms near the national assembly in Seoul on April 4, 2016.
South Korean policemen patrolling under cherry blossoms near the national assembly in Seoul on April 4, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL (AFP) - An emergency call centre in South Korea released a list Tuesday (June 7) of the most ridiculous requests for help it has received, including one that concerned a particularly large cockroach.

Staff at the call and dispatch centre in western Incheon city, which handled around a million phone calls last year, voted for the 10 most inappropriate requests for assistance made to emergency services.

"We've got a roach here... a real big one. Please take care of it!" was one caller's urgent predicament.

Other callers had an array of bizarre "emergency" requests ranging from needing help obtaining the phone number of a popular movie star to a plea for assistance hailing a taxi in the rain.

One female caller asked for guidance about how to make her ex-boyfriend come back to her.

Another caller informed emergency services they had lost their mobile phone "somewhere on the mountain" and required help locating it.

An 85-year-old man rang the emergency 119 number after his children chastised him for having a romantic affair in his twilight years.

An official at the call centre told AFP that they could dispatch emergency workers to only actual crisis situations.

"A cockroach, no matter how big it may be, does not make the cut," the official added.

The head of the Incheon emergency call centre, Kim Joon Tae, said the vital 119 phone line must be used only for actual crisis situations, not frivolous calls.

"We really have to focus on emergencies," he said, adding the centre plans to launch a publicity campaign to reduce time-wasting requests this month.