Citizens Enraged At The South Korean Prime Minister’s Joke During Itaewon Halloween Emergency Press Briefing

The statement was not translated into English, but Korean netizens caught on.

On November 1, 2022, South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck Soo held a press conference with foreign media to talk about the Itaewon Halloween Disaster of October 29, which ended up claiming 156 lives, with many critically injured left behind. While the country is observing a week-long mourning period, government criticism is at its peak for the lack of disaster management. In the middle of this, a comment made by the Prime Minister during the press conference has drawn in more backlash from people.

During the question-answer session at the Jung Gu Foreign Press Center, an American reporter representing NBC asked the PM to what extent is the government willing to take responsibility for this unfortunate incident.

Was it wrong for these young people to be there in the first place? And at what point does the government responsibility start in South Korea, especially in times like this where government described the situation to be nobody’s fault?

— NBC Reporter

To this, the PM replied that he didn’t think the young people were at fault. “If the police investigation finds anyone guilty, they will definitely be held accountable…It is the government’s infinite duty to take responsibility for the citizens’ life and safety,” he added.

A little while later, when the voice transmission for simultaneous interpretation devices had a glitch, the PM made a joke, saying, “At what point does the [tech staff] responsibility start in this case, since I can’t hear [the interpretation] that well, and to what extent does it apply?” The “joke” in concern was him replicating the NBC reporter’s question about the government’s responsibility in the incident. But the statement was not translated into English during the briefing.

Many netizens caught onto the moment and criticized him for displaying insensitivity during such a grim situation.

| theqoo

  • “Is he being sarcastic right now? That’s crazy.”
  • “I don’t have any words. Is it a place for cracking jokes and puns?”
  • “How can he laugh in that situation?”
  • “He’s out of his mind.”
  • “This is crazy…”

On Wednesday, November 2, the Prime Minister issued an apology for his remarks.

Source: Hanjyung