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S.Korean dad seeks justice for Halloween crush victims

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2 個月前

STORY: One month after his daughter died, Cho Gi-Dong’s grief shows no signs of waning.

He has come to visit the urn containing the remains of his 24-year-old daughter, Ye-jin, who died in a deadly crush in the Korean capital Seoul in October.

Cho has visited almost daily ever since she was laid to rest.

"I'm so sorry", he says, over and over.

Over 150 people died when revellers flooded the narrow alleyways of the nightlife district of Itaewon to celebrate the first COVID-19 restriction-free Halloween festivities in three years.

Ye-jin was with two friends that night, who also lost their lives.

Cho works as a bus driver but has been on a leave of absence after his daughter’s death.

He says he is unable to sleep and feels helpless at being unable to save his only child.

But his sorrow has slowly turned to anger.

That’s especially after transcripts of several emergency calls emerged, detailing the hours before the accident.

They showed that citizens had repeatedly warned of the dangers and urged intervention.

Police have faced stringent public criticism and scrutiny over its responses to those calls.

And an investigation is underway into authorities' overall handling of the crush.

South Korea's President, Interior Minister and National Police Commissioner General have pledged to conduct a transparent investigation and to take necessary steps once it concludes.

Cho says he has received guidance from the government on how he can be reimbursed for funeral costs and receive consolation money.

But he, and relatives of the other victims, want more.

"We don't need money, we live well enough without that money. That's not the way to console us bereaved families. We can't live without my daughter. However, rather than admitting their fault and understanding the families, they just pass the blame on others and avoid responsibility. Seeing that kind of behavior, I get into a rage.”

Relatives say they want an apology from the government.

Lee Ju-hee is from a collective of human rights lawyers called Minbyun.

She says nearly 60 families have joined the campaign for justice.

"Before we talk about the financial support or compensation, what's important to us right now is the truth of political and administrative tragedy - why our children had to die on the street that we have walked past all the time believing it would be safe."

Cho says an apology and seeing those responsible punished would help reduce his anger.

But it will never make up for the loss of his beloved daughter.

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