Hamilton Hotel Chief Fined Over Illegal Extension Contributing to Itaewon Tragedy

SEOUL – In a recent ruling, the chief of Hamilton Hotel, located adjacent to the site of last year's devastating crowd crush in Seoul's Itaewon district, was fined for an illegal extension that contributed to the narrowness of the alley where the incident occurred. The tragedy resulted in the deaths of 159 people.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the hotel's chief, identified only by his family name Lee and aged 76, was sentenced to an 8 million won (approximately US$6,200) fine. Lee had been indicted in January on charges of illegally extending structures into the alley and unlawfully occupying the pathway. Media outlets and critics have suggested that these extensions played a role in making the already narrow alley even more constricted.

This judgment represents the first court ruling associated with the Itaewon crowd crush. Meanwhile, trials are ongoing for multiple officials charged with mishandling the disaster and the inadequate first-aid response. These include Yongsan Ward office chief Park Hee-young, who oversees the Itaewon district, and former Yongsan Police Station chief Lee Im-jae.

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