South Korea’s interior minister apologizes over Halloween tragedy


Acknowledging that the state bears the responsibility for the safety of people, South Korea’s interior minister on Tuesday apologized for the death of 156 people in Saturday’s deadly stampede.

“I deeply apologize to the people that the recent accident occurred despite the state bearing infinite responsibility for the people’s safety,” Lee Sang-min said.

He was addressing a parliamentary session, according to Yonhap News.

The tragic incident happened on Saturday in the capital Seoul’s entertainment district of Itaewon during the Halloween celebration, killing 156 people, mostly youngsters.

Though South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol declared a weeklong national mourning following the deadly crush, his administration is facing growing criticism.

Many have raised questions over the handling of the event, held after three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, by police and other government agencies which failed to “enforce crowd control.”

The 26 foreigners killed in the deadliest stampede in South Korea’s history included nationals from Iran, China, Russia, the US, Japan, France, Australia, Norway, Austria, Vietnam, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Sri Lanka.

It marked the country’s worst tragedy since the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster that killed 304 people, most of them high school students.

Yoon is expected to chair a joint government-civilian meeting in the coming days to deliberate on safety measures for people at such events.

South Korean police have also begun an investigation with officials analyzing video footage of the stampede and questioning the witnesses.__The Nation