SEOUL, South Korea — Bereaved family members of victims of final yr’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 folks, 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, activists and others visited the Itaewon space and supplied condolences at an alley the place the crush occurred. In addition they attended multi-religious 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.
“Apologize! Apologize!” they shouted.
The group marched by way of 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 assist efforts to legislate a particular regulation to open an impartial investigation into the catastrophe.
“We did our utmost to lift our youngsters however we couldn’t even contact them after they vanished unexpectedly. The place can we discuss our resentment towards this actuality?” Lee stated. “The particular regulation would crucial laws to seek out the reason for the Itaewon catastrophe and talk about the prevention of recurrences of comparable incidents.”
A number of opposition politicians criticized Yoon for failing to attend the ceremony and accused his authorities of making an attempt to hide the reality of the catastrophe. In addition they vowed to cross the particular regulation to resolve the tragedy.
The victims’ households stated that they had invited Yoon to the memorial ceremony. Yoon as an alternative visited a Seoul church to attend a service for the victims. Yoon’s workplace did not clarify why he missed the memorial, however native media reported it was because of considerations that the occasion could possibly be politically utilized by his rivals.
In a speech on the church, Yoon stated that the day of the catastrophe “was the day after I felt the best disappointment in all my life.” Yoon stated he gives 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 appropriately anticipating an enormous variety of folks in Itaewon. Investigators stated 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 motive why the households and opposition lawmakers name for an impartial probe.
This yr’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 folks wearing Halloween costumes have been seen in Itaewon and different main leisure zones in Seoul on Friday and Saturday.