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South Korea ousts interior minister over failings in mass panic


South Korea’s parliament temporarily dismissed Interior Minister Lee. He is accused of serious omissions in connection with a stampede on Halloween. It is the first time in South Korea that a cabinet member has been removed.

South Korea’s parliament has launched impeachment proceedings against Interior Minister Lee Sang-Min. The opposition has accused Lee’s agency of not doing enough to quell a Halloween celebration stampede in a Seoul entertainment district. Almost 160 people died at that time. The incident, in which people sometimes suffocated in the crowd, had shaken the country badly.

Numerous omissions led to mass panic

The chief of police already admitted to mistakes after the mass panic. Since the Halloween celebrations were not officially announced shortly after the end of the corona restrictions, they were not monitored by the local authorities. However, the police did not follow up on the first calls effectively enough.

A special police team confirmed this impression in January. A variety of omissions, including a lack of safety precautions and delayed rescue efforts, contributed to the high number of casualties. However, the interior minister cannot be held responsible.

Final decision made by the Constitutional Court

179 MPs voted in favor of removing Home Secretary Lee – 109 opposed. According to the majority, Lee bears responsibility for the faulty operational planning and other omissions for the stampede.

Lee is now suspended from office for the time being. The constitutional court must decide on his final dismissal within the next six months. It was the first time that South Korea’s parliament had temporarily removed a cabinet member.