Final Report on Deadly Seoul Halloween Crush Released

South Korea's special police team tasked with investigating the Halloween crowd crush that killed more than 150 people in Seoul last year published its final report on Friday, blaming poor safety planning and botched responses by police and public authorities for the tragedy.

Final Report on Deadly Seoul Halloween Crush Released
Image credit: AP [via CBS News]

Facts

  • South Korea's special police team tasked with investigating the Halloween crowd crush that killed more than 150 people in Seoul last year published its final report on Friday, blaming poor safety planning and botched responses by police and public authorities for the tragedy.
  • This comes after the months-long probe involving over 500 investigators found that police and public officials failed to employ significant crowd control measures for the expected 100K attendance and failed to properly address emergency calls on Oct. 29.
  • The probe team drew on two on-site inspections with the National Forensic Service, some 180 videos recovered from CCTVs near the site, some 140K confiscated goods from relevant organizations, and 538 people.
  • The unit formed by the government of Pres. Yoon Suk-yeol three days after one of the worst peacetime disasters in South Korean history has asked prosecutors to indict 23 officials on criminal charges. Six officials have been arrested so far.
  • Those referred for prosecution with detention include Yongsan top officials who administer the Itaewon neighborhood. Meanwhile, officials from Seoul city, the interim ministry, and the national police agency weren't referred.
  • Opposition lawmakers and some relatives of the victims have requested further investigations into more high-profile figures, such as South Korea's Interior and Safety Minister Lee Sang-min and National Police Agency Commissioner Gen. Yoon Hee-keun.

Sources: Wall Street Journal, Al Jazeera, Korea Joongang Daily, New York Times, Korea Times, and NBC.

Narratives

  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by BBC. While this long-awaited report — in conjunction with the request for indictments — is a step in the right direction, there are serious gaps in holding all of those responsible to account. The probe team has scapegoated local municipal and emergency service officials to protect higher-level officials who should also be held liable for this tragic incident.
  • Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by YNA. This in-depth probe has allowed the special investigation team to get to the bottom of this tragic incident, referring everyone who allowed this outcome by failing to comply with their legal responsibilities to the prosecution. Despite public pressure to hold them accountable, high-level officials aren't responsible for crowd control duties.