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Police launch probe into media outlets over disclosure of names of crowd crush victims

SEOUL– Police launched an investigation Wednesday into two online media outlets that disclosed a list of victims of the Itaewon crowd crush without the consent of bereaved families.

On Monday, Mindeulle and the Citizen Press released the names of 155 deceased victims of the Oct. 29 tragedy that killed at least 158 people during Halloween celebrations.

A Seoul city councilman and some conservative civic groups filed separate complaints against the news services on the charge of violation of the Personal Information Protection Act.

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said it assigned the case to its anti-corruption and public crime investigation unit.
The team is reviewing related records and plans to question the local councilor, Lee Jong-bae, affiliated with the ruling People Power Party, on Thursday, the agency said.

Earlier in the day, the government expressed regret about the disclosure of the victims’ names.

“The government expresses deep regret about the disclosure without the consent of the bereaved families.” Kim Seong-ho, the chief of the interior ministry’s disaster and safety management headquarters, said during a news briefing.

He refuted the news outlets’ claim that the government released the list of victims in past major disasters, including the 2003 subway fire in Daegu and the 2014 sinking of ferry Sewol.

“In such past disasters, it took a long time to identify the deceased, so the lists of the missing were made first,” he said.

“In the case of the Itaewon disaster, the identification of victims was completed in a short period of time, so the list of missing people need not be maintained for a long time,” he added.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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