Special parliamentary committee meets with families of Itaewon tragedy victims

SEOUL– A special committee on parliamentary investigation into the Itaewon crowd crush met with some of the families of the victims Thursday and vowed to uncover the truth of the disaster and seek accountability of those responsible.

The main opposition Democratic Party (DP) members of the committee held their first meeting with the bereaved families of Itaewon victims at the National Assembly in western Seoul at their request.

The members of the ruling People Power Party (PPP) did not attend the meeting amid their strife with the opposition party over the submission of a dismissal motion against Interior Minister Lee Sang-min.

Lee has faced criticism that his ministry bungled emergency response to the tragedy that killed at least 158 Halloween party goers in Seoul’s Itaewon district on the night of Oct. 29.

DP Rep. Woo Sang-ho, who heads the committee, slammed the PPP members for their absence, saying they should meet the families of the victims regardless of their opposition to the motion.

“We will try to uncover the truth thoroughly, seek accountability of those responsible and come up with measures to prevent similar accidents from happening in the future,” DP Rep. Kim Kyo-heung said.

In the meeting, some of the bereaved families broke into tears and asked the parliamentary committee to reckon with the story of every victim and the mourning families.

“I couldn’t sleep at night over concerns whether the National Assembly really has the will to find the truth,” the mother of actor Lee Ji-han, one of the victims, said.

Lee’s father also told the committee the families have requested a meeting to the presidential office but have not received a reply yet.

He also called for the interior minister’s dismissal, shouting how the matter can be a “subject of a political strife.”

The families asked the committee to prepare a proper mourning space for the victims, a communication channel of the bereaved families, and include experts recommended by the families in the parliamentary investigation.

Source: Yonhap News Agency