Bereaved families from the Itaewon disaster expressed their position in front of the media for the first time since the disaster.
On Nov 22nd, some of the bereaved families of the Itaewon disaster held a press conference to announce their position at the conference room of the Lawyers for a Democratic Society in Seocho-gu, Seoul.
The mother of A, a foreign national, said her son A came to the language school of a Korean university to study to dig deeper into the Korean’s identity but lost his life in the Itaewon disaster. She said, “The hardest thing about bidding farewell to my child is that the people who lead the country can’t admit their fault,” adding, “It’s really frustrating.”
“I am taking my son back to Vienna (Austria) in my arms. I have to receive an apology from the government, but my son’s funeral in Vienna is on the 28th,” she said. “I will do everything I can for foreigners who have passed away unjustly. I hope the bereaved families will clear their heads to step up and solve the unfairness of our children’s death.“
Victim C’s father said, “The Itaewon disaster was an indirect murder caused by safety insensitivity,” adding, “There was no state personnel at such a deadly scene in the middle of the Itaewon road.“
The mother of the late actor Lee Ji Han, who passed away in the disaster, also attended the meeting. She said, “He went on a diet before the drama for his work. At 2 p.m. that day, he ironed his pants and said he was going out to eat today. My heart was broken after seeing him at the hospital because his cheeks were hollow and his stomach so flat. If the Yongsan-gu District Office, Yongsan Police Station Chief, Police Commissioner, Seoul Mayor, Minister of Public Administration, and Prime Minister knows that their child was crying for help here, could they ever walk and eat on this street ever again?“
Asked about the “disclosure of the list of victims,” Yoon Bok Nam, a lawyer for the Task Force team responding to the Itaewon disaster, pointed out the government’s lack of responsive measures, saying, “The list is private because there is no preemptive action from the government. The key is not whether the release of this list is right or not, but the government needs to ask for consent from the bereaved families to disclose it for the memorial of the victims, it is misleading,” he said. “The key is to reveal the list (with consent).“
A bereaved family said, “The list being disclosed without consent is a second offense to us. We are also hurt again to see that there was no portrait and no memorial tablet at the memorial altar. Have you ever seen such a memorial altar?”
Through the press conference, the bereaved families delivered six demands to the government, including ▲ a genuine apology, ▲ taking strict and thorough reposnsibility regarding the incident, ▲ a process to check and ensure the victims’ identity ▲ active support for victims ▲ a memorial facility ▲ a statement of position and concrete measures to prevent the incident from happening again.
The Itaewon disaster occurred on Oct 29th in the area of 119-7 alley next to Hamilton Hotel in Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. As too many people flocked to the narrow alleys, a crush accident occurred, which led to 158 casualties.