(LEAD) Seoul mayor marks 1st anniversary of Itaewon tragedy with pledge to build safe city

SEOUL, Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon has vowed to ensure safety across the South Korean capital as South Korea marked the somber anniversary of the deadly crowd crush in the city Sunday.

Oh attended the main memorial event near Seoul City Hall commemorating the 159 people killed in the crowd crush in the nightlife district of Itaewon on Oct. 29, 2022, during Halloween celebrations.

In his Facebook post Sunday, Oh said he’d visited the bustling Hongdae district in western Seoul on Saturday evening, noting the orderly manner in which young people were enjoying the weekend and Halloween festivities.

“Firefighters, police officers and civil servants were on hand to maintain safety and order all across the area,” Oh noted. “And our citizens also displayed a sense of public order, as they avoided crowding in tight areas. I could see with my own eyes that we as a society had overcome great tragedy from last year and had taken a step forward.”

Oh also said he had visited the site of last year’s crowd crush in Itaewon to pay tribute to the victims.

“To ensure we won’t have a repeat of such a tragedy, I will spare no efforts in building a safe Seoul,” Oh said.

After attending Sunday’s memorial event near City Hall, Oh went back to the Itaewon accident site in the evening to check on the streets and pay tribute to the victims.

The association of bereaved families organized a pre-event in Itaewon, attended by the country’s religious leaders for prayers for the victims. They would then march toward Seoul City Hall for the main memorial event, scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. Sunday.

Lee Jae-myung, head of the main opposition Democratic Party, and Ihn Yohan, head of the innovation committee of the ruling People Power Party, were among those from the political circle scheduled to be on hand.

The organizers of the memorial service have told police that 3,000 people will attend the event. The police said they will dispatch officers to guard against possible accidents.

The families of the victims were also set to hold a Catholic Mass at Seoul Plaza, in front of City Hall, starting at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

Source: Yonhap News Agency