The public is frowning upon Prime Minister Han Duck Soo's insensitive remark about the teenage Itaewon tragedy survivor who was found dead at an accommodation recently.
At a meeting with reporters at the Seoul Government Complex on December 14, Prime Minister Han began by saying, "It is a very heartbreaking thing," regarding the news of the teen survivor from the Itaewon tragedy found dead at an accommodation on December 13. The prime minister continued to say, "I think it would have been better if he had a stronger will and a stronger desire to receive treatment."
Regarding the fact that the bereaved family of the victim claimed in a press interview that the victim received only 15 to 20 minutes of trauma treatment a week, Prime Minister Han stated, "If (the victim) sufficiently expressed his difficulties to the support center, they would have been more proactive (in treating and supporting him)."
Many have taken issue with Prime Minister Han Duck Soo's statement that the victim made an extreme choice to take his own life due to a lack of strong will.
The prime minister explained, "The basic policy of our government is that if an individual wants to receive treatment and they need a doctor, the government should actively support that individual and help them. I don't think there would have been a situation where treatment could no longer be done due to financial issues."
Prime Minister Han drew the line saying, "It's difficult to conclude," when reporters pointed out the possibility that the victim could have made the extreme choice due to the hasty dissolution of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters and that support was not adequately provided in relation to the Itaewon tragedy.
The prime minister continued to say, "In the government's perspective, we believed we had a grasp of the situation to a certain extent - from dealing with the Itaewon tragedy, the funeral procedure, and compensations issues - and decided to respond with the organization we had." He added, "It is heartbreaking that there is a problem of blind spots in welfare which sometimes occurs."
Korean netizens expressed their anger and criticism toward the prime minister and wrote, "Is he a sociopath?" "That man is the prime minister?" "Wow, how can he say something like that?" "He should shut his mouth," "Really? Is he for real?" "He is so crazy," "He's making me curse," "Wow, I'm speechless," and "How can he say something like that about a victim and blame him?"
Meanwhile, according to a December 13 statement from the Seoul police, the body of a high school student was discovered in an accommodation in Mapo-gu, Seoul, at 11:40 PM on December 12. The police were searching for the student after receiving a missing person's report from his mother on the same day.
In an interview with MBC News on December 14, the bereaved family expressed that the teen survivor was having a hard time after the Itaewon tragedy. The family explained, "He mentioned while crying in mid-November that he was having a tough time because he read comments that was ridiculing his friend who had died in the accident."