Relatives of S. Korea crowd crush victims march to demand answers

Mourners visit a makeshift memorial near the site of a crowd crush tragedy in Seoul on Oct. 31, 2022. The incident left more than 154 dead during Halloween celebrations in the nightlife district of Itaewon. File Photo by Thomas Maresca/UPI

Feb. 4 (UPI) — Families of the Halloween crowd rush victims in Seoul‘s Itaewon district marched Saturday to demand that an independent body be created to investigate the incident.

An estimated 5,000 people participated in the march and set up a memorial altar to honor the 159 people killed in the entertainment district during Halloween celebrations last year.

They erected the altar despite not receiving permission from the government to do so.

The marchers also urged the government to do more to find out the reasons behind the tragedy.

Attendee Lee Jeong-nyeo, 51, told the Yonhap News Agency she joined the rally with her 11-year-old son over frustrations that the National Assembly has not done enough to uncover the cause of the deadly crush.

Most of the victims of the incident — the deadliest crowd crush in the country’s history — were in their 20s and 30s, officials said. Among them were 26 foreigners, including two American identified as Steven Blesi and Anne Gieske, 20-year-old college juniors who were in Seoul on study abroad programs.

Questions have been raised about how such a disaster was possible.

A 55-day parliamentary probe into the incident concluded last month but many South Koreans remain unconvinced the full truth has not been uncovered.

“The responsibility of the state is nowhere to be found before the tragedy, after the tragedy and now … the Seoul city government even coldly turned down the bereaved families’ request asking for just a small space to commemorate the victims today,” Rep. Lee Jae-myung told Yonhap Saturday.


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