Mon. May 27th, 2024

SEOUL, South Korea — Bereaved relations of victims of final yr’s devastating Halloween crush in Seoul and their supporters demanded an unbiased investigation of the catastrophe as they marked the anniversary Sunday with a large 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 preferred nightlife district in Seoul, for Halloween celebrations.

Commemorating the anniversary, the households visited the Itaewon space, laid flowers and provided 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 had been plastered.

“I am sorry. I am sorry that I could not shield you. I liked you,” Track Jin Younger, 55, the daddy of one of many victims, mentioned.

In Itaewon, accompanied by their supporters, the households additionally attended multi-faith prayer providers 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 1000’s of individuals.

In a speech, Lee Jeong-min, a consultant for the households, urged President Yoon to assist efforts to legislate a particular legislation to open an unbiased investigation into the catastrophe.

“We did our utmost to boost our youngsters however we couldn’t even contact them after they vanished abruptly. The place can we discuss our resentment towards this actuality?” Lee mentioned. “The particular legislation would crucial laws to seek out the reason for the Itaewon catastrophe and talk about the prevention of recurrences of comparable incidents.”

In speeches, a number of opposition politicians criticized Yoon for failing to attend the ceremony and vowed to move the particular legislation to resolve the tragedy. Some individuals reportedly shouted jeers at a ruling celebration official when he tried to go away after the primary half of the ceremony, however there have been no stories of main violence.

The memorial ended, with the group shouting “We’ll bear in mind you” when names of every of the 159 victims had been known as. In addition they positioned flowers earlier than the images of the useless at an altar.

The victims’ households mentioned they’d invited Yoon to the memorial ceremony. As an alternative, he attended a service for the victims at a Seoul church. Yoon’s workplace didn’t explicitly clarify why he missed the memorial, however native media reported it was because of considerations that the occasion might 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 provides 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 didn’t formulate efficient crowd management steps regardless of accurately anticipating an enormous variety of folks 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 cause why the households and opposition lawmakers name for an unbiased probe.

This yr’s Halloween celebrations in South Korea had 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 had been seen in Itaewon and different main leisure zones in Seoul on Friday and Saturday.

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Related Press video journalist Yong Jun Chang contributed to this report.

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