Commentary: Fatal crowd crush shows South Korea’s continued disregard for safety

Commentary: Fatal crowd crush shows South Korea’s continued disregard for safety

Meanwhile, all of Seoul mourns. Events and concerts scheduled to coincide with the crisp, pleasant autumn weather have been cancelled. News outlets have been filled with heart-wrenching stories of lives cut short, such as a 23-year-old woman who died roughly one month before she was scheduled to get married.

QUESTIONS IN THE WAKE OF ANOTHER DEADLY INCIDENT

South Korean history is littered with deadly accidents, and every time one happens, distraught citizens ask why authorities failed to prevent it. Some wonder whether in its speedy post-war industrialisation, the country failed to prioritise safety as it developed.

Adding to the pain is an emerging consensus that the losses were preventable. The National Police Agency released records of phone calls on Tuesday (Nov 1), revealing that the first call about surging crowds came in at 6:34pm, several hours before the fatal crush.

This sparked criticism that the police were slow to act and could have intervened with crowd control measures much earlier.

There are also questions as to why police did not have a larger presence in Itaewon at the start of the evening. This was the first year since before the pandemic that Halloween went ahead with no social-distancing restrictions in place. Police could have anticipated large crowds.

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