President Yoon Suk-yeol enraged by police inaction on calls on night of Itaewon tragedy
President Yoon Suk-yeol was enraged after learning that police took no action even after receiving 11 calls about the dangerous level of crowds on the night of the Itaewon tragedy, according to a presidential official.
Yoon received a list of the calls made to the 112 police hotline Saturday evening, shortly before presiding over a Cabinet meeting Tuesday, and ordered the circumstances be determined "thoroughly without a trace of doubt" and that those responsible be "handled strictly in accordance with the law and principles," the official told Yonhap News Agency on Tuesday.
The National Police Agency (NPA) on Tuesday disclosed the transcripts of the 11 emergency calls that started coming in around four hours before the disaster, leading many to believe the tragedy, which killed at least 156 people, was avoidable.
Many of the callers said they felt like they were going to be "crushed to death."
NPA chief Yoon Hee-keun held a press conference Tuesday morning after the president received the list of calls, apologizing for the "insufficient" police response and promising an internal inspection into what went wrong.
A string of apologies followed from Interior Minister Lee Sang-min, the chief of Itaewon's Yongsan District, and Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon.
"There is no direct link between President Yoon's orders and the various officials' apologies," a presidential official said. "The police's internal inspection and investigation are also not within the scope of command of the presidential office."