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Safety of Year's End Depends on Finding the Truth
  • By Seo Ji-min, cub-reporter
  • 승인 2022.11.21 00:44
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▲ A citizen is offering flowers at a memorial space for the victims of the Itaewon disaster at Exit 1 of Itaewon Station in Yongsan-gu, Seoul on the 9th. (Source: Yonhap News)

Controversy is brewing as the truth behind the October 29 incident in Itaewon, Seoul, has slowed down. Public opinion is mounting that, "Isn't it a 'self- investigation' of the responsible party," after the news broke that the pan- governmental investigation was not conducted and the National Police Agency's special investigation headquarters was in charge of the cause and investigation.

The Itaewon crush disaster is a massive catastrophe that killed more than 300 people at 10:15 p.m. on October 29, 2022, when a large number of people flocked to the alley next to the Hamilton Hotel in 119- 3 Itaewon- dong, Yongsan- gu, Seoul. The Ministry of Public Administration and Security held a briefing at the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters in Itaewon, at the Sejong Government Complex on the 31st of last month and announced measures to support victims. Sungho Kim stated, "We will pay up to 15 million won for the funeral and support transportation costs," said the head of the Disaster Safety Management Division of the Ministry of Public Administration and Security. "We have completed one- on- one matching between bereaved families and local government officials, and will send officials to 31 funeral halls to support the funeral process." Separately, it was decided to pay 20 million won in consolation money to the victims of the disaster. Compensation of 5 million won to 10 million won will also be paid to the injured. Injuries related to other disasters shall be paid for under medical expenses, first through health insurance finances, and those with serious cases shall be managed intensively by matching public officials in charge on a one- on- one basis. In addition, taxes and telecommunication charges, along with relief funds, will be reduced or deferred for bereaved families and the injured.

In addition, the national mourning period was declared from October 30 to November 5 at 24:00, and various large- scale events scheduled at the end of the year were canceled or reduced, to commemorate the tragedy in which numerous young people lost their lives. Lotte Shopping has come up with a policy to minimize marketing and promotion of the, "Rocky Day," event held by eight affiliates of the distribution group by the 9th of next month. Lotte Department Store temporarily postponed the opening of the Christmas exterior wall of its headquarters in Sogong- dong, Jung- gu, Seoul, scheduled for the 3rd of next month. Hyundai Department Store also reduced and suspended Christmas lighting events that have been underway since the 27th of last month. In addition, even though Pepero Day was celebrated on November 11, Lotte Confectionery, a Pepero manufacturer, said, "We canceled all of our events and marketing activities related to Pepero Day in mourning for the Itaewon crush disaster." Lotte Confectionery has been holding SNS events, including TV advertisements, ahead of Pepero Day every year, but has stopped all of them this year.
There is a lot of talk about investigations related to the disaster, as well as follow-up measures. The government and political circles voiced through one voice on the thorough investigation of the cause of the disaster and the preparation of countermeasures, but opinions were divided on the method of investigation. The Democratic Party of Korea's Yongsan Itaewon Disaster Countermeasures Headquarters, said, "We cannot expect the police to clearly reveal the truth of the disaster through self- investigation," adding, "The government cannot be the subject of the investigation either." "The National Assembly's parliamentary investigation is inevitable to find out the cause objectively and thoroughly," he said. On the other hand, the People's Power Party believes that the parliamentary investigation could confuse the ongoing police investigation. Jang Dong- hyuk, a spokesman for the People's Power, said, "If we conduct a parliamentary investigation now, it will only lead to a political dispute," and stressed, "People's sentiment is not a political dispute, but a quick and thorough investigation."

Many young people left us too soon due to a sad accident. All citizens should be alert to mourn those who have left and prevent future accidents. The upcoming Christmas holiday is expected to bring people together to enjoy the year- end atmosphere. It is urgent to thoroughly investigate and prepare for the cause, so that such a disaster will not be restored again.

By Seo Ji-min, cub-reporter  jmseo1215@naver.com

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