At the time of the Itaewon disaster, it was argued that it was more important to recognize the danger in advance and send the crowds down the alley than to deploy police personnel.
The 11th Division of the Criminal Agreement of the Seoul Western안전놀이터 District Court (Chief Judge Bae Seong-joong) said to Jeong Hyun-wook, head of the operation support team at Yongsan Station 112 Situation Room, who appeared as a witness at the trial of Lee Im-jae (53), former chief of the Yongsan Police Station, arrested and indicted for the Itaewon disaster on the 12th, “I climbed up from the alley where the accident occurred. I think that the accident would not have happened if only the direction of the person coming and going was set. Was it difficult to take action at the time?”
Team leader Jeong replied, “If I had recognized the danger, I would have taken action.” He said that eight police officers were dispersing the crowd near Exit 2 of Itaewon Station, where more people usually gather, rather than Exit 1 of Itaewon Station right in front of the alley where the accident occurred.
He argued that the crowd could have been dispersed with fewer police personnel if he had recognized the danger early and adjusted the direction of traffic.
Team leader Jeong said, “If you lower the density of people going up, people who come down will come down, so it doesn’t take long.
On the other hand, in the case of Exit 2, Song Byeong-ju (52, indicted) added that he could have recognized the danger because it could be seen with the naked eye from the roof of the Itaewon police box, where the head of the 112 situation department at Yongsan-seo at the time was.
Regarding the fact that the Halloween festival is an unhosted event, Jeong said, “It can be personally criticized, but it is unclear whether it is an ‘event’.”
He said, “Itaewon is always full of people on Saturdays and summers, so it’s not easy to go to school. Then, Itaewon should be an event every Saturday and Sunday.”
The court also explained the bereaved family’s point that the trial was delayed.
The judge said, “Because it is the Criminal Agreement Department, we are currently handling more than 150 cases, including violent cases such as murder, financial cases, and election law,” and “Because it is the most important case, Monday is devoted entirely to the Itaewon case.”