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PM Rejects Meeting With Families of Yongsan Victims

Posted October. 20, 2009 09:16,   


Prime Minister Chung Un-chan yesterday rejected for a second time calls to meet with the families of victims of a police crackdown in Seoul’s Yongsan district in January.

Five people and a police officer were killed in a fire after police cracked down on a protest against a redevelopment project in the district.

An official at the Office of the Prime Minister said yesterday that the families asked Chung for a meeting Oct. 8 after he visited the incense-burning altar for the victims. He turned down the request four days later, saying it would be “inappropriate” for him to do so at a time when little progress had been made in resolving disputes over the tragedy, the official said.

The office reaffirmed yesterday that the central government would not get involved in efforts to resolve the incident, but only support the Seoul city to help reach a settlement between the redevelopment union and the families.

In addition, Chung phoned Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon asking for the city’s efforts to help both sides reach a compromise.

An official at the prime minister’s office said, “Our office has contacted the bereaved families twice but made little progress, as they are reiterating their demands for a government apology and reinvestigation of the tragic incident.”

Significant progress has been reportedly made, however, in compensation for the deceased and the tenants of demolished stores in the Yongsan district.

According to the office, the redevelopment union agreed to offer 300 million won (256,600 U.S. dollars) to each family of the five civilian victims and the right to rent stores at a new shopping mall to be built in Yongsan.

Twenty-three households that refuse to accept compensation will be given 150 percent of the damage amount for loss of business.

In addition, the Korean Church Diakonian Service, a religious community service group, will foot 500 million won (427,716 U.S. dollars) for the funerals of the five civilian casualties. Construction companies working on the redevelopment site plan to offer the bereaved families the right to run the cafeteria on the construction site.