Speed Reads

Taking The Blame

South Korean police chief says he feels "heavy responsibility" for Halloween crowd crush

Law enforcement officials in South Korea admitted their culpability on Tuesday for failing to properly respond to a festival crowd crush in Seoul that left more than 150 people dead. 

Amidst massive growing scrutiny over Saturday's disaster, Yoon Hee Keun, chief of South Korea's National Police Agency, apologized for the inadequate police response during the crowd crush. 

"I feel a heavy responsibility as the head of one of the related government offices," Yoon said during a press conference, per The Associated Press. "Police will do their best to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again." 

The crush, which occurred in Seoul's popular Itaewon District during a Halloween festival, marked South Korea's deadliest disaster since 2014. Following the incident, a law enforcement investigation reportedly discovered that dozens of people had called emergency services as the stampede unfolded. However, Yoon said police officers who answered the calls had failed to properly respond. 

Yoon added that an internal probe into the police response had been launched. The probe is reportedly investigating the emergency calls as well as the presence of first responders in the area, AP reported. 

Yoon was not the only public official to express remorse for the lackluster response. Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon openly wept during a separate press conference, saying, "I'm sorry for the delay in apologizing." 

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol admitted during a cabinet meeting that South Korea did not have adequate preparations for crowd management, and called for new systems to be put in place.