A South Korean police officer under investigation over last month’s crush in Seoul has been found dead, officials said on Friday.
The crush in the capital’s neighbourhood of Itaewon on the night of October 29 killed more than 150 people, and has led to questions being asked of the police response.
Identified only by his surname Jeong, the 55-year-old officer was found dead at his home in Seoul, an official at the National Police Agency told AFP news agency.
Investigators carry a box containing confiscated items out of the National Police Agency in Seoul, South Korea, November 8, as part of an investigation into the Itaewon crowd crush that killed at least 156 people on 29 October. A 55-year-old officer, identified only by his surname Jeong, was found dead at his home in Seoul, an official at the National Police Agency has said
Pictured: The narrow alley in Itaewon district is pictured full of people before the crush during Halloween festivities killed 156 in Seoul
Jeong, an intelligence officer, had been working for the police station that oversaw Itaewon, 서울 오피 an entertainment area in the capital where the tragic crush unfolded.
His office – the Yongsan Police Station – is one of the targets of a major investigation into the disaster, including botched crowd control efforts.
Jeong had been accused of ordering the destruction of an intelligence report – which had warned of a potential accident over Halloween in Itaewon – among other infractions, the Yonhap news agency reported.
Lawmakers slammed the suspected removal of the documents at a parliamentary session on Monday, and urged the arrest and punishment of those in charge.
National Police Commissioner General Yoon Hee-keun told lawmakers that the intelligence chief at the Yongsan station had ordered the records to be deleted and would be investigated.
As the nation has mourned the deaths of 156 people, the police has faced bitter criticism from the public and scrutiny over its handling of the tragedy.
Investigators had previously raided the Yongsan Police Station – a day after the national agency acknowledged that Seoul police failed to act for hours despite receiving at least 11 emergency calls from pedestrians warning about a swelling crowd of Halloween revellers in a narrow alley near Hamilton Hotel.
Transcripts of the emergency calls, released earlier this month by the police, showed their hotline had received the reports of dangerous crowding nearly four hours before disaster struck, but apparently failed to take action.
A South Korean police officer under investigation over last month’s Halloween crush in Seoul has been found dead, officials said on Friday. Picturd: Onlookers, police and paramedics gather where dozens of people suffered cardiac arrest, in the popular nightlife district of Itaewon in Seoul on October 30, 2022
South Korean Buddhist monks (left) pray at a makeshift memorial for the victims of the deadly Halloween crowd surge, outside a subway station in the district of Itaewon in Seoul, Nov. 3
Pictured: Health officials and police offers work in the alleyway that was the scene of the deadly Itaewon Halloween crowd crush, in Seoul, November 11
The 156 people that died in the crush were mainly young women, including a handful of teenagers and more than two dozen foreigners. The crush injured 187, leaving 33 in serious condition. At least 26 citizens from 14 countries were among the dead.
At least 100,000 people had flocked to the area to celebrate the first post-pandemic Halloween, but neither local authorities nor police had planned measures for a crowd that large in the narrow streets of the neighbourhood.
A handful of top officials including the police chief, Seoul mayor and the interior minister issued public apologies last week, admitting they had failed to prevent the fatal disaster.
Proper crowd and traffic control by the authorities could have prevented or at least reduced the surge of Halloween partygoers in alleys, experts have said.
Thousands of people gathered in Seoul at a candlelight vigil over the weekend to mourn the victims, with public anger growing over the government’s handling.
Lost items from the deadly Itaewon Halloween crowd crush are displayed at a gym in Seoul, South Korea, November 11
Shoes are seen among a huge collection items found in Itaewon following South Korea’s deadliest crowd surge, at a temporary lost and found center at a gym in Seoul, November 1
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol places a flower at a memorial altar in front of City Hall in Seoul, South Korea, November 3. The president apologise for the crush on Monday
On Monday, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol apologised for the crush.
‘I do not dare to compare myself to the parents who lost their sons and daughters, but as the president who ought to protect the people’s lives and safety, I am heartbroken,’ he said during a meeting to review safety rules.
‘I am sorry and apologetic to the bereaved families who are suffering an unspeakable tragedy, and to the people who share the pain and sorrow.’
Yoon initially ascribed the authorities’ poor handling to flaws in the country’s crowd management and safety regulations.
But following the reports of the call transcripts, however, he sharply rebuked the police and apologised to the victims and wider public.
At Monday’s safety meeting, he vowed to overhaul the national safety management system, carry out a thorough investigation and bring those responsible for failings to account.
‘In particular, extensive reform is needed in the police work, which is essential to preparing for danger and preventing accidents, in order to protect the safety of the people,’ Yoon said.
National Police Commissioner General Yoon Hee-keun told parliament on Monday that more officers were dispatched than compared to pre-COVID-19 years and the 137 would have been sufficient to manage crowds of similar scale in general, but authorities could not expect that people would be concentrated into alleyways.
Opposition lawmakers demand the police chief and the interior minister be sacked. Yoon has rejected such calls.
On Saturday, candlelight vigils and rallies were held across the country for the victims. Thousands gathered in central Seoul at a candlelight vigil organised by a civic group linked to South Korea’s main opposition party, with many holding signs that said: ‘Step down, Yoon Suk-yeol.’
People place flowers to pay tribute to victims of a deadly crowd surge that killed over 150 people in the neighborhood of Itaewon during Saturday night’s Halloween festivities, at a makeshift flower-laying area set up near the scene of the accident in Seoul, November 3
People attend a candlelight vigil for victims of Halloween crowd crush in Seoul, November 5
A man watches from above as mourners take part in a candlelight vigil in Seoul to commemorate the 156 people killed in the Halloween crowd crush
‘I think I will live with the anxiety that one day I may suffer such an accident as well,’ said participant Yoo Da-eun, 23.
‘In fact, even when I was coming here, I was worried that something would happen because of the large crowds.’
The organisers – who had also held anti-government rallies prior to the disaster – said they were conducting similar vigils in other cities including Busan and Gwangju.
In Itaewon, at a subway exit near the alley at the centre of the Halloween crush, there was a sea of white floral tributes and notes.
One read: ‘I will remember you forever.’ Mourners also left chocolates, beer, soju – a Korean alcoholic beverage – and strawberry milk.
<meta content="The King has said the UK "stands in solidarity" with the people of South Korea in a message of condolence following the crowd surge that killed more than 150.
Charles said both he and the Queen Consort were "deeply shocked and saddened" by the news of the deaths during during recent Halloween festivities in Seoul.
In his message to the President of South Korea Yoon Suk-yeol, the King said: "I wanted you to know how deeply shocked and saddened both my wife and I are to hear of the many people who have lost their loved ones as a consequence of the recent, tragic incident in Itaewon, Seoul.” itemprop=”description” />
<video controls="" class="video-js vjs-default-skin" website website sends message of condolences to South Korea after more than 150 die in Seoul website King has said the UK \"stands in solidarity\" with the people of South Korea in a message of condolence following the crowd surge that killed more than 150.
Charles said both he and the Queen Consort were \"deeply shocked and saddened\" by the news of the deaths during during recent Halloween festivities in Seoul.
In his message to the President of South Korea Yoon Suk-yeol, the King said: \"I wanted you to know how deeply shocked and saddened both my wife and I are to hear of the many people who have lost their loved ones as a consequence of the recent, tragic incident in Itaewon, Seoul.website preload=”none”>
<div class="art-ins mol-factbox news" data-version="2" id="mol-6bc256a0-61d5-11ed-b4ad-dde2c663e195" website under investigation over Seoull Halloween crush found dead