On anniversary of deadly Halloween crush, South Korean families demand special probe

SEOUL: Bereaved relations of victims of final 12 months’s devastating Halloween crush in Seoul and their supporters demanded an impartial investigation of the catastrophe as they marked the anniversary Sunday with an enormous memorial service. The crush, one of many greatest peacetime disasters in South Korea, killed 159 individuals, most of them of their 20s and 30s who had gathered in Itaewon, a well-liked nightlife district in Seoul, for Halloween celebrations.
Commemorating the anniversary, the households visited the Itaewon space, laid flowers and supplied condolences at an alley the place the crush occurred. Some wept close to a wall the place hosts of post-it notes with condolence messages have been plastered.
“I am sorry. I am sorry that I could not shield you. I beloved you,” Music Jin Younger, 55, the daddy of one of many victims, mentioned.
In Itaewon, accompanied by their supporters, the households additionally attended multi-faith prayer companies for his or her family members. They chanted slogans asking President Yoon Suk Yeol to supply a extra honest apology and Security Minister Lee Sang-min to resign over the catastrophe.
“Apologise! Apologise!” they shouted.
The group marched via Seoul earlier than arriving at a sq. for a memorial service, which drew hundreds of individuals.
In a speech, Lee Jeong-min, a consultant for the households, urged President Yoon to help efforts to legislate a particular regulation to open an impartial investigation into the catastrophe.
“We did our utmost to lift our youngsters however we could not even contact them after they vanished unexpectedly. The place can we discuss our resentment towards this actuality?” Lee mentioned. “The particular regulation would crucial laws to search out the reason for the Itaewon catastrophe and talk about the prevention of recurrences of comparable incidents.”
In speeches, a number of opposition politicians criticised Yoon for failing to attend the ceremony and vowed to move the particular regulation to resolve the tragedy. Some contributors reportedly shouted jeers at a ruling occasion official when he tried to depart after the primary half of the ceremony, however there have been no experiences of main violence.
The memorial ended, with the group shouting “We’ll keep in mind you” when names of every of the 159 victims have been known as. In addition they positioned flowers earlier than the pictures of the useless at an altar.
The victims’ households mentioned they’d invited Yoon to the memorial ceremony. As a substitute, he attended a service for the victims at a Seoul church. Yoon’s workplace did not explicitly clarify why he missed the memorial, however native media reported it was as a consequence of considerations that the occasion could possibly be used politically by his rivals.
In a speech on the church, Yoon mentioned that the day of the catastrophe “was the day once I felt the best unhappiness in all my life”. Yoon mentioned he presents deep sympathy to the households and pledged to construct a safer South Korea.
In January, a police particular investigation concluded that police and municipal officers did not formulate efficient crowd management steps regardless of accurately anticipating an enormous variety of individuals in Itaewon. Investigators mentioned that police had additionally ignored hotline calls by pedestrians who warned of swelling crowds earlier than the surge turned lethal.
Greater than 20 police and different officers are reportedly on trial over the catastrophe. However no top-level officers have been charged or held accountable, a purpose why the households and opposition lawmakers name for an impartial probe.
This 12 months’s Halloween celebrations in South Korea have been largely subdued, with most bars, eating places and outlets avoiding Halloween-themed occasions in reminiscence of the victims. Solely a small variety of individuals wearing Halloween costumes have been seen in Itaewon and different main leisure zones in Seoul on Friday and Saturday. (AP) SCY SCY

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