Open the communication lineOn Chuseok, which fell on Saturday, Prime Minister Chung Un-chan visited the altar for victims of the Yongsan fire.
He also met with the victims’ families, who are demanding that the government clear up the confusion about the cause of the deaths by making public the documents related to the investigation of the incident.
The families have been demanding a meeting with government officials. The central government has refused, holding the position that the police
action was legal and proper because the protesters were illegally occupying buildings and performing illegal activities, such as throwing gasoline bombs.
The visit by Chung on Saturday, however, could be a new key to finding a solution to this ordeal.
The Yongsan incident remains a problem in Korean society, even though the official investigation into the case is over and Seoul Metropolitan
Police Agency Chief Kim Seok-ki ? who was slated to become head of the National Police Agency ? resigned as a result.
Accordingly, it was entirely reasonable that Chung visited and consoled the bereaved families on Chuseok.
The solution to every problem starts with communication. We now hope that the bereaved families and the committee of civic groups involved in
this issue will respond to Chung’s move in a positive way and cooperate in solving the problem. The government should also remember that this case will set a precedent for compensation issues in the future.
We interpret Chung’s tears during the visit to the bereaved families as a heartfelt expression of his humanity.
And we think his remark about “deeply” feeling “heavy responsibility as a public official” bodes well for how he will handle his job and responsibilities as an official in charge of general public administration. Still, his comment should not be interpreted as a sign that the government is taking responsibility for the Yongsan incident.
Regardless, serious conflicts in Korean society should not be neglected for an indefinite amount of time.
It was therefore appropriate that the prime minister promised the establishment of a channel for communication on this issue.