The Itaewon tragedy is the worst to take place in South Korea since the sinking of the Sewol Ferry in 2014 killed 304 people, leading to criticism against the government at the time for its response to the emergency. Then-Prime Minister Chung Hong-won resigned over authorities’ failure to properly handle the maritime disaster, while then-President Park Geun-hye saw her approval rating dip in the months that followed.
“Like in the past, this tragic incident could become a defining test of a Korean president’s leadership and competence, depending on how he handles the situation and the results of the investigation into the cause of the stampede,” said Duyeon Kim, an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security in Seoul. “If history is a guide for national tragedies, either Yoon’s critics will blame him and seek his ouster or Yoon becomes a hero.”
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