Professor Yeom Gun Woong claimed, “Citizens voluntarily participate (in the event). However, this accident could have been prevented in advance.”
Analysts say it will be difficult to hold anyone responsible for the Halloween crush accident in Itaewon, which caused massive casualties. It was a festival in which citizens voluntarily participated, and it was not a crowd gathered to watch a specific event, so it isn’t easy to specify the responsibility.
Yeom Gun Woong, a professor teaching police fire administration at Yuwon University, appeared on YTN Good Morning and said, “This accident was caused by people in the crowds who were walking through that alley being pushed against each other. It is difficult to determine who is responsible for the accident.”
Professor Yeom cited the characteristics of the narrow and sloping Itaewon alley, insufficient precautions, and delays in handling the situation due to the crowded traffic conditions after the accident.
Professor Yeom said, “One person fell on the narrow alley and people on the slope overlapped on each other, which eventually reached the crush stage,” adding, “In the end, they couldn’t control the situation with their own power and couldn’t get out of it. It’s a big enough accident to be described as a disaster,” he explained.
He then pointed out, “In the end, there are aspects indicating that we have no choice but to say that safety prevention measures or disaster response control have not been systematically carried out at the site where the festival took place.”
“Another problem is that the surrounding traffic was too congested when the fire authorities were dispatched. The golden time was up to four minutes when the cardiac arrest came after someone was shocked in a pressured situation, but rescue workers were not even able to enter the scene, and the number of victims increased due to such delays,” Yeom said.
Professor Yeom expressed his skepticism about the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency’s decision to set up an investigation headquarters to find out how the accident happened and who was responsible for it.
Professor Yeom said, “The situation then was not that someone planned an event, and people gathered to join the event which caused the accident, but the crowd gathered voluntarily,” adding, “We need to find out who is responsible through the investigation, but it may be difficult to specify targets such as specific companies, individuals, and local governments.”
“If someone pushed me with the intention of harming me, I could hold them criminally responsible,” he said. “However, this accident is close to a natural phenomenon. One person was pushed over and fell, which led to another person falling one after another,” he added.
Professor Yeom reiterated that it was regrettable that the preliminary safety measures were insufficient.
Professor Yeom said, “We naturally agree that overall safety insensitivity was the cause of the accident,” adding, “It is not a wide square, but it is a structure where people have no choice but to be pushed out of the narrow and sloping alleyway topography, like Itaewon. That’s why we could have predicted (the accident) in advance,” he said, expressing his regret.
“We clearly saw something that could control and prevent such safety accidents from happening,” he said adding, “I think we were too complacent about the safety that could have prevented this in advance. If local governments, merchants’ associations, and the subjects participating in the festival had prepared safeguards to disperse people somehow, wouldn’t there have been no accidents or at least lessened the damage?” Prof. Yeom repeatedly expressed his regret.