On Friday, the National Assembly's special committee conducted a second on-site investigation of the Ministry of the Interior and Safety and the Yongsan District Office in Seoul as part of its investigation into the Itaewon disaster. Opposition party lawmakers criticized the poor response of government officials, including Minister of the Interior and Safety Lee Sang-min, during the disaster, alleging that the damage was exacerbated as a result. Meanwhile, lawmakers from the ruling party identified flaws in the system, and tensions continued to mount between the ruling and opposition parties.
On Friday morning, the special committee of the National Assembly conducted an on-site investigation of the Ministry of the Interior and Safety at the Seoul Government Complex in Jongno-gu, attended by Minister Lee Sang-min and Kim Seong-ho, the Head of Disaster and Safety Management Headquarters. Kim Gyo-heung, the secretary of the opposition party, criticized Minister Lee's handling of the disaster, stating, “He should have established the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters immediately upon the onset of the disaster, rather than waiting for instructions from the president. This was not the correct course of action.”
In response, Minister Lee defended his actions, saying, “The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters is not responsible for handling immediate disasters. The fire chief, as head of the emergency rescue control team, should direct the scene and take emergency measures.” When Democratic Party lawmaker Yoon Kun-young asked whether the failure to report the disaster for an hour was a problem with the system or the minister, Lee responded that it was a problem with the system.
The ruling party supported Minister Lee's assertion that the incident was caused by a systemic problem and called for improvements to the disaster response system. People Power Party lawmaker Cho Soo-jin asked whether it was within the minister of the Interior and Safety's power to direct preparedness and preventive measures for large crowd incidents such as the Itaewon disaster. Minister Lee replied that it was not possible according to the Disaster and Safety Act, to which Cho responded, “As a country governed by the rule of law, it is necessary to supplement legislation for the supervision of the police and fire departments.”
The ruling party also argued that the delay in the minister's report was due to the disaster safety reporting guidelines established during the former Moon Jae-in administration. People Power Party lawmaker Park Seong-min explained, “Reports pass through four steps before reaching the secretary and the fire department reporting directly to the minister.” When asked when these guidelines were implemented, Minister Lee replied, “They were created during the tenure of former Minister of the Interior and Safety Jeon Hae-cheol.”