Yongsan Police Officer Under Investigation For The Itaewon Tragedy Found Dead At Home

He was an intelligence chief, in charge during the fateful crowd rush.

A 55-year-old police officer who was supposed to be investigated in connection to the Itaewon Halloween tragedy was found dead at his home in Seoul on November 11.

The Itaewon alley, where the tragedy occurred, was sealed off by police.

The deceased officer, who has been identified by his surname Jeong, was in charge of intelligence affairs at the Yongsan Police Station, which holds jurisdiction over the Itaewon entertainment district. On October 29, a deadly crowd rush at Itaewon claimed hundreds of lives, severely injuring many more. After the incident, multiple witnesses came forward, claiming that Yongsan Police Station had been notified numerous times about the dangerous overcrowding at Itaewon hours before the fatal tragedy occurred. Around ten emergency call transcriptions were made public last week that showed the tragedy was preventable. This only fueled the public anger towards the inaction of the police, which cost hundreds of young lives.

A makeshift memorial for the victims of the Itaewon Tragedy | KYODO

Investigators raided the Yongsan Police Station along with a fire station and local authority offices to look for evidence that can prove officials’ negligence in responding to the crowd surge crisis reports that night. South Korea’s National Police Commissioner General Yoon Hee Keun had stated that an intelligence chief at the Yongsan station was going to be investigated for ordering to delete the records from the night of the tragedy. It was suspected that Jeong tried to cover up the inaction of Yongsan station by removing an intelligence report that warned the police department of a possible safety crisis on October 29.

Commissioner General Yoon Hee Keun | KNPA

He was facing charges of abuse of authority, destruction of evidence, and professional negligence resulting in death. Jeong was suspended on Wednesday, November 9.  Two days later, he was found dead at his home by a relative at around 12:45 pm KST. According to reports, there was no suicide note at the scene, but he did make calls to his colleagues the previous day, hinting at suicide. Based on the circumstances of Jeong’s death, the police are most likely to close the case.

Source: Yonhap