Rival parties agree to revise bill mandating new probe into Itaewon tragedy

May 1, 2024

The ruling and main opposition parties agreed Wednesday to revise a special bill mandating a new investigation into the 2022 Itaewon tragedy that claimed 159 lives, both sides said.

The bill, which was initially railroaded by the main opposition Democratic Party in January but vetoed by President Yoon Suk Yeol, calls for the formation of an investigation committee to look into the root cause of the tragedy, which took place amid a crowd crush in Seoul’s Itaewon district during Halloween weekend in 2022.

The ruling People Power Party and the DP agreed on the committee’s makeup, period of operation and method of investigation, and will reflect the agreements in a revised bill before passing it through a plenary parliamentary session Thursday, they said.

Under the deal, the committee will not have the authority to conduct investigations ex officio or seek warrants, operate for up to a year with the possibility of extending its term by up to three months, and comprise a chair who will be chosen following consultations between the rival parties and four members recommended by each party.

“The Democratic Party made a big concession,” Rep. Lee Yang-soo, senior deputy floor leader of the PPP, said during a joint briefing with his DP counterpart Rep. Park Ju-min at the National Assembly.

“We made the pragmatic decision to pass it by agreement,” Park said, citing likely delays in the committee’s formation should the DP pass the bill unilaterally again.

The presidential office welcomed the deal.

“Cooperative governance and politics between the ruling and opposition parties have begun through the meeting between President Yoon Suk Yeol and Democratic Party Chairman Lee Jae-myung, and we consider this agreement the first detailed outcome,” presidential spokesperson Kim Soo-kyung said during a press briefing, referring to the Yoon-Lee meeting two days ago.