DP Leader Urges President Yoon to Apologize for Itaewon Crowd Crush Tragedy

SEOUL, South Korea - Opposition leader Lee Jae-myung called for a formal apology from President Yoon Suk Yeol concerning last year's deadly crowd crush in Itaewon. Lee also criticized the president's decision not to attend the first anniversary commemoration of the event, scheduled for this weekend at Seoul Plaza in front of City Hall.

According to a new release by Yonhap News Agency, Lee made these remarks after the presidential office announced that Yoon would not attend the event, claiming it had "the tinge of a political rally organized by the opposition party." The event is co-organized by victims' families and the DP.

Lee emphasized the government's role in protecting citizens' lives and safety. "He should apologize. ... He must offer words of consolation to the bereaved families and victims unfairly affected," Lee said during a leadership meeting of the DP. The opposition leader also pressed Yoon to uphold his promise of creating a safe society and to take actions that would prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future.

In response to the presidential office's characterization of the event as politically motivated, Lee argued that its nature would change if both ruling and opposition parties participate. "If both ruling and opposition parties participate, it cannot be called a political rally, can it?" he said. "Nobody can label it as a political rally, if the government's president officially participates."

The Itaewon crowd crush occurred on Oct. 29 of last year. The tragic event resulted in 159 deaths as a massive crowd filled a sloped, narrow alleyway in the Itaewon nightlife district during Halloween festivities.

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