Halloween revelry turned to disaster in South Korea
November 4, 2022 at 1:09 AM - Views: 7 #497099soryangParticipant
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How a night of Halloween revelry turned to disaster in South Korea
Seoul crowd crush was hours in the making, witness
accounts and call transcripts show, leaving police facing questions
over slow response.
As police investigate Saturday’s events, a picture is emerging of how a celebration spiraled into disaster — leaving a nation in collective grief and lingering questions about crowd management and responses by police and local authorities. The National Police Commissioner, Yoon Hee-keun, acknowledged that crowd control was inadequate, and President Yoon Suk-yeol said it was critical to improve emergency responses. Police on Tuesday released transcripts of emergency calls that showed increasing distress among revelers as the crowd swelled, providing nearly four hours of warnings that went mostly unheeded.
This account of the tragedy was pieced together from the testimony of more than 15 witnesses, police transcripts, visual evidence and open-source material shared on social media that was verified by Reuters. Some of those who spoke to Reuters did so on the condition of full or partial anonymity, citing personal trauma or privacy reasons.
Police said they had only 137 officers in Itaewon that night. That was slightly more than previous years, but far less than the 4,000 deployed at political rallies in central Seoul the same day. Most of the police in Itaewon appear to have been tasked with traffic control or crime prevention, according to authorities and witnesses.
Usually I don’t bother with Reuters. This article has some good graphic representations and descriptions of the events. However, the report misses the political significance of the disaster. The role of the Yoon government in ignoring public safety for presidential safety caused mostly by Yoon’s unorthodox move into the former Ministry of Defense building, and his obsession with political opposition. The political demonstration I heard of in independent media was a “me too” opposition demonstration against his dismantling and reorganization of the Agency for Families and Children, and other anti-women moves by an administration that was elected based on the votes of young male misogynists.
President Yoon’s oddball office and residence locations as well as his political priorities (his own security above all) cause misallocation of police resources, upset domestic safety responses, and even adversely affect national security. He and his crooked spouse showed up at a memorial venue arranged so he could appear without having to face the victims’ surviving family members furious with his incompetent administration. His oddball guru said the disaster presented an “opportunity.” The prime minister actually joked about a US pro baseball game not needing many police at a hearing on the matter.
Yoon’s administration arguably is already in the police state category with his consistent investigation and prosecution of political rivals, and former members and ministers of the former democratic Moon Jae-in administration. The headquarters of the Democratic Party was just raided by prosecutors on bogus charges and major political opposition figures and their family members have been subjected to literally hundreds of warrants on fishing expeditions.
Opponents of the administration are hoping the reaction to this Itaewon Halloween disaster which represents on obvious public safety failure on the part of the government signals the beginning of the end of the Yoon administration. This could be similar to the Sewol Ferry disaster which brought about the Candlelight Revolution that ultimately led to former president Park Geun-hye’s downfall, premised primarily on incompetence and corruption.
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