Thousands mourn Seoul tragedy victims, call for president’s resignation
Seoul, Nov 5 (EFE).- Thousands of people gathered in downtown Seoul on Saturday to mourn the victims of the crush that killed more than 150 people during Halloween festivities in the capital city and demand the resignation of South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol.
The organizers of the unlicensed vigil gathered thousands of people to pay their respects and protest against the “irresponsible government” at the symbolic Gwanghwamun Square.
The event was called by Chodbul haendong (Candlelight Action), a liberal association that taps into the spirit of the protests that between 2016 and 2017 came to gather more than two million people in Seoul to demand the resignation of then-President Park Geun-hye.
In October, the group coordinated weekly protests to call for the dismissal of the also conservative Yoon Suk-yeol, whose approval rating is around 35 % according to the latest polls.
Throughout the afternoon, thousands of people (at least 50,000, according to organizers) joined the rally, sang songs and read speeches in memory of the victims of the tragedy in the Itaewon neighborhood – a popular nightlife area – a week ago, carrying candles and signs that read “Yoon Suk-yeol resign” and “To resign is to mourn”.
“It’s terrible that the government can’t protect the lives of our young people, terrible,” a 56-year-old bank employee who asked to remain anonymous told Efe.
Just 300 meters from the vigil, dozens of people were still lining up to place floral tributes and bow at the altar placed in honor of the victims in front of City Hall.
A week-long national mourning period declared after the tragedy will conclude at midnight on Saturday.
On October 29, at least 100,000 people visited the Itaewon neighborhood to celebrate Halloween, the first mass event to be held in South Korea without coronavirus restrictions in place.
The enormous crowd created a crush in a narrow alley connecting a main avenue with a busy bar area, which ended up killing 156 people and seriously injuring 33 others.
South Korean police have come under heavy criticism for failing to act after it emerged that emergency services had received 11 phone calls from alerting them to the danger about four hours before the tragedy occurred.
The central government has also admitted to a lack of safety protocols to avoid disaster in large events that do not have a designated organizer, and has promised to enact regulatory changes in the wake of the tragedy. EFE