Go to Contents Go to Navigation

(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Nov. 9)

All News 06:57 November 09, 2022

No time for political fracas
Bipartisanship crucial to enhancing public safety

The ruling People Power Party (PPP) and the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) are engaged in a political battle over the deadly Halloween crowd crush that claimed 156 lives in Seoul's nightlife district of Itaewon on Oct. 29. It is regrettable that the rival parties are busy playing politics, instead of working together to cope with the aftermath of the tragedy and map out preventive measures.

The DPK has begun a political offensive by demanding a parliamentary probe and an independent counsel probe into the Itaewon disaster. However, the PPP dismissed the demand, saying that such probes will only hinder or delay the police's ongoing investigation to reveal the exact cause of the accident.

It is absurd for the DPK to call for a probe by the National Assembly or a special prosecutor even when the police investigation is underway. The party has stressed the need for such probes, arguing that the police cannot conduct a thorough and objective investigation because many senior officers are suspected of having neglected their duty to protect the people's safety and lives. It has pointed out that the public will not trust any investigation results from the police.

Besides, the DPK has upped the ante by calling for the sacking of Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, Minister of Interior and Safety Lee Sang-min and National Police Agency (NPA) Commissioner General Yoon Hee-keun. It seems to be right to hold them accountable for not taking precautionary measures ahead of the Halloween weekend. Yet the party's demand for the dismissal of Han and Lee could be seen as its move to put pressure on the Yoon Suk-yeol administration for political purposes.

As for the NPA chief, it would be better for wait for the results of the ongoing investigation. He may face charges of professional negligence in connection with the tragedy. The president has repeatedly vowed to take stern action against those who are found responsible for the disaster. It won't be late for the opposition to call for the dismissal of any Cabinet members after the outcome of the investigation comes out.

In this regard, the DPK cannot avoid criticism for trying to take advantage of the crowd crush for political gains. DPK Chairman Lee Jae-myung is at the forefront of his party's political offensive against the Yoon administration. Concerns are growing that Lee and his party are applying more pressure on the government in a bid to block the prosecution's investigation into allegations that Lee and his aides were deeply involved in multiple corruption scandals, including controversial land development projects and acceptance of illegal campaign funds.

The PPP is also under fire for inappropriately responding to the DPK's demands. Its interim leader Chung Jin-suk said that a set of large-scale disasters had also taken place during the tenure of former President Moon Jae-in. He listed a fire at a hospital in Miryang and another fire in a storage house in Icheon, which claimed 47 lives and 38 lives, respectively. His remarks were seen as an attempt to shirk responsibility on the part of the Yoon administration. They were also seen as a political attack on the DPK, which was the ruling party under Moon's rule.

This is not the time for political wrangling between the rival parties. It is a time for bipartisanship which is urgently needed to heal the wounds of the victims' families and overcome the shock from the deadly accident. We urge the government and the parties to overhaul the nation's disaster prevention and response system and work out fundamental measures to prevent a recurrence of disasters such as the Halloween mishap.

Send Feedback
How can we improve?
Thanks for your feedback!