South Korean man posts Twitter apology before jumping to death over pop concert tragedy

South Korean National Forensic Service members check a broken ventilation grate after concert goers fell through it into an underground parking area below in Seongnam City, south of Seoul, on Oct 17, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
South Korean National Forensic Service members check a broken ventilation grate after concert goers fell through it into an underground parking area below in Seongnam City, south of Seoul, on Oct 17, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL - A South Korean official who commited suicide after a pop concert accident left 16 people dead, had posted a Twitter message apologising for the tragedy, just minutes before he was found dead.

"I have done my best to live a good life, but was faced with an accident that I never thought would happen. I am sorry for my colleagues and the ones who died in the accident,'' the Korea Herald quoted the 37-year-old man as saying in his tweet.

"I extend my apologies. I hope you will take my word of truth," said the official who was identified only by his surname Oh.

The man, who was married with two children, also apologised to his family, according to the Korea Herald.

"I am sorry the most for my father and mother. I am so sorry. My dear children, daddy loves you so much. I miss you so much."

And to his wife, he had this message: "I am so sorry. Please take good care of our children. I love you so very much."

Disaster relief spokesman Kim Nam Jun told journalists on Saturday that Oh, who handled security measures at the concert by popular all-girl band 4Minute, jumped off a building near where the tragedy took place on Friday. He was found dead early Saturday, a few hours after he was interrogated by police over the disaster, YTN TV said.

South Korean police said on Sunday that no safety personnel were deployed at the outdoor pop concert where a ventilation grate collapsed, killing 16 people and injuring nine others.“From the beginning, there were no safety personnel for the concert,” a police spokesman told reporters, according to Yonhap news agency, after about 20 people were questioned over the incident in the city of Seongnam, south of Seoul.

Those questioned included officials of Edaily, a domestic Internet news provider which financed and organised the concert attended by more than 700 people, Yonhap said.

The victims were standing on a ventilation grating to get a better view when the structure collapsed under their weight, sending them plunging 18.7 metres down into an underground parking area.

Amateur video footage obtained by the YTN news channel showed shocked spectators surrounding the collapsed grate as the K-pop band, apparently oblivious to the accident, continued performing on stage, according to AFP.

- No security -

Witnesses told the media that there were no security guards or safety fences to prevent overflowing spectators climbing onto the grate after some 400 prepared chairs were fully occupied well before the concert kicked off. More than 700 people were believed to be attending the outdoor concert at the time.

"Many people on the vent gratings were chanting and dancing to the music. I was worried about their safety but there were no security guards around," a 45-year-old man who runs a restaurant near the site was quoted as saying by Chosun Ilbo newspaper.

"The show host repeatedly told the spectators to come off the grate but no one paid heed to the warning," another witness told the newspaper.

Lee Sang Hoon, another witness, told Dong-A Ilbo daily that immediately after the accident, "screams for help were all drowned out by the din from the concert".

AFP quoted Professor Chung Jae Hee of the Seoul National University of Science and Technology as saying that the incident was another "man-made" disaster.

"Basic safety precautions were all brushed aside. The organisers of the show should have at least set up temporary safety fences or deployed security guards there," he told AFP.

"These kind of safety hazards are latent in many places all over this country.

"Over the past decades, economic expansion always took precedence over safety concerns, resulting in the lack of safety conciousness among Koreans," he added.

Police promised a thorough investigation, saying actions will be taken to punish those responsible if violations of safety rules are found, Yonhap news agency reported citing an official.