No se­cu­rity present at con­cert that killed dozens, po­lice find

Korea JoongAng Daily - - Front Page - BY SARAH KIM

Po­lice said yes­ter­day in an in­terim probe re­port that there was not a sin­gle se­cu­rity of­fi­cer dis­patched to the out­door K-pop fes­ti­val at Pangyo Techno Val­ley in Gyeonggi, which killed 16 con­cert­go­ers and in­jured 11 on Fri­day evening after a ven­ti­la­tion graft col­lapsed.

The vic­tims, who plum­meted to their deaths while watch­ing the free con­cert co-hosted by Gyeonggi prov­ince, in­cluded a mar­ried cou­ple, who leave be­hind three chil­dren, and promis­ing young IT minds work­ing at the Pangyo com­plex, a bustling cen­ter for tech­nol­ogy and biotech.

They were among the more than a dozen who plum­meted to their deaths while watch­ing a free con­cert co-hosted by the prov­ince of Gyeonggi.

The tragedy is be­lieved to be the re­sult of yet another case of faulty se­cu­rity reg­u­la­tions and man­age­ment.

The Gyeonggi Provin­cial Po­lice Agency sent 60 of­fi­cials yes­ter­day morn­ing to search and seize pos­si­ble ev­i­dence from 10 of­fices of the con­cert or­ga­niz­ers, which in­clude the on­line eco­nomic news web­site Edaily, a sub­sidiary of Edaily TV, and the Gyeonggi In­sti­tute of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Pro­mo­tion (Gstep).

The po­lice’s in­terim re­port on an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the cause of the ac­ci­dent re­vealed a chill­ing breach in safety mea­sures, and that not a sin­gle per­son in charge of safety was present at the con­cert, due in part to mis­com- mu­ni­ca­tion and care­less­ness.

Ac­cord­ing to the po­lice re­port dis­closed in a brief­ing yes­ter­day, 38 peo­ple had been as­signed to run the event, though none tes­ti­fied to have been as­signed as a se­cu­rity guard. As­sign­ments in­cluded 11 stage man­agers and 16 pro­mot­ers.

The group com­prised 11 mem­bers from the con­cert’s main or­ga­nizer, Edaily; 16 from Gstep, the con­cert’s host; and 11 from the event-plan­ning company Plan­box. In ad­di­tion, none had been ed­u­cated on safety pro­to­col.

Though Gstep des­ig­nated four peo­ple in their event plan out­lines as safety of­fi­cials for the con­cert, the in­di­vid­u­als told po­lice that they “had not been no­ti­fied” of such an as­sign­ment.

Po­lice of­fi­cials said that con­cert or­ga­niz­ers ini­tially claimed that 40 peo­ple had been as­signed for event se­cu­rity two days be­fore the fes­ti­val.

The po­lice fur­ther sum­moned 20 of­fi­cials in charge of con­cert plan­ning, man­agers of the fa­cil­ity from Pangyo Tech­nol­ogy Val­ley and of­fi­cials from other co-hosts of the event, the Gyeonggi Provin­cial Gov­ern­ment and the Seong­nam Met­ro­pol­i­tan Gov­ern­ment, for ques­tion­ing yes­ter­day.

The first Pangyo Techno Val­ley Fes­ti­val was a cul­tural event held for res­i­dents and work­ers in the bud­ding in­dus­trial com­plex in the city of Seong­nam.

The free con­cert at­tracted ap­prox­i­mately 700 peo­ple — though 400 seats were ini­tially pre­pared — who wanted to see per­for­mances by mu­si­cal acts such as 4Minute and T-ara.

Dur­ing the per­for­mances, a group of around 30 con­cert­go­ers climbed

atop the el­e­vated grate for a bet­ter view of the stage be­fore the shaft gave way from their weight, send­ing the group plum­met­ing down over 18 me­ters (about 60 feet) into an un­der­ground park­ing area at 5:53 p.m.

At that time, popular girl group 4Minute, the first per­form­ers of the night, was on stage and con­tin­ued to per­form, un­aware of the ac­ci­dent.

In ad­di­tion to the 16 who were killed, there were 11 other ca­su­al­ties, some of whom were se­ri­ously in­jured. Many of the ca­su­al­ties were com­muters who stopped to watch the con­cert after leav­ing work, rang­ing in their 20s to 40s.

One of the con­cert plan­ners, an of­fi­cial from the Gyeonggi In­sti­tute of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Pro­mo­tion only iden­ti­fied by his sur­named Oh, who was in charge of con­cert se­cu­rity, was found dead on Satur­day morn­ing in an ap­par­ent sui­cide about three hours after he was ques­tioned by po­lice.

The 37-year-old fa­ther of two left a haunt­ing mes­sage on Twit­ter at 7:01 a.m., 15 min­utes be­fore his body was found on a Seong­nam street.

“I have done my best to live dili­gently, but some­thing I could never have imag­ined has oc­curred. I am sorry for my col­leagues and for those who died from the ac­ci­dent. My heart is apolo­getic. I hope you know my sin­cer­ity.”

He went on to apol­o­gize to his par­ents. To his chil­dren, he wrote, “Daddy loves you very much. I miss you.” And to his wife, he said, “I am re­ally sorry and leave the chil­dren to you.”

Po­lice said yes­ter­day that Oh had writ­ten up the safety plans, as­sign­ing four peo­ple for se­cu­rity the day be­fore the con­cert.

But why Oh, who is not the main or­ga­nizer of the event but a ju­nior of­fi­cial af­fil­i­ated with Gstep, wrote up the safety plan, has not yet been con­firmed, po­lice added.

Kwak Jae-sun, the chair­man of on­line news site Edaily, apol­o­gized yes­ter­day for the ac­ci­dent and told re­porters, “If there are any ar­eas de­ter­mined that Edaily, as the con­cert or­ga­nizer, has to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for, it will be taken.”

He made the state­ment fol­low­ing a meet­ing at Bun­dang Dis­trict Of­fice in Seong­nam with Gyeonggi Gov. Nam Kyung-pil and Seong­nam Mayor Lee Jae-myung to dis­cuss mea­sures to han­dle the af­ter­math of the ac­ci­dent.

Kwak fur­ther said he will “en­trust all au­thor­ity for com­pen­sa­tion and mea­sures to re­cu­per­ate from the ac­ci­dent” to the new depart­ment for support of the Pangyo ac­ci­dent un­der the Bun­dang Dis­trict Of­fice.

The Pangyo ac­ci­dent con­trol and support depart­ment promised 30 mil­lion won for med­i­cal bills and fu­ner­als for the vic­tims and their fam­i­lies.

Kwak fur­ther said that he would use his schol­ar­ship foun­da­tion to fund the ed­u­ca­tions of the chil­dren of the vic­tims through col­lege to help the be­reaved rel­a­tives cope.

The po­lice over the week­end iden­ti­fied the dead, in­clud­ing a mar­ried cou­ple, 46-year-old women Kwon Bok-nyeo and her 47-year-old hus­band Jeong Yeon-tae, who leave be­hind three chil­dren, the youngest only in el­e­men­tary school.

“Not too long ago, it was my mother’s birth­day, but the two could not spend time to­gether, so as a date, they went to the con­cert to­gether,” the cou­ple’s 20-year-old son, who is slated to en­list in the mil­i­tary, told me­dia.

The fu­neral dates for most of the vic­tims have been de­cided, ac­cord­ing to Gyeonggi of­fi­cials. The first fu­neral ser­vice was held yes­ter­day for 29-yearold Hong Seok-beom, a soft­ware game pro­gram­mer who worked at an IT company in the neigh­bor­hood.

By Kim Gyung-bin

The po­lice yes­ter­day guard the scene of the ac­ci­dent that saw 16 con­cert­go­ers killed and 11 in­jured after a ven­ti­la­tion grate they were stand­ing on col­lapsed at an out­door K-Pop per­for­mance on Fri­day in Gyeonggi.

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