South Korea's National Police Agency announced Wednesday it would deploy hundreds of riot police for crowd control at a World Cup cheering rally in Seoul. File Photo by Thomas Maresca/UPI
SEOUL, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- In the wake of last month's Halloween crowd crush that left 158 dead, South Korean police said Wednesday that they would dispatch 600 officers to a mass World Cup cheering event in Seoul.
The National Police Agency said that it would deploy eight squads of riot police and around 40 additional officers to Gwanghwamun Square in downtown Seoul on Thursday as the South Korean national men's soccer team plays their first match of the World Cup in Qatar.
"During the street cheering that is expected to take place on Korea's game day, riot police and special forces will be deployed to maintain order at the venue and preform crowd management," the agency said in a statement.
Police said they expect around 15,000 people to gather in the public square for the match.
The units will conduct safety checks around subway entrances and other surrounding areas ahead of the event and will monitor crowd levels during and after the match. Riot police will also be on hand for crowd control in nearby nightlife areas, where fans are expected to gather.
Police and government officials have come under heavy criticism for failing to respond to the crowd surge in the Seoul nightlife district of Itaewon that left 158 dead during pre-Halloween festivities on Oct. 29.
On Tuesday, a group of victims' families held a press conference in Seoul and demanded a sincere apology from the government and a thorough investigation into the incident, calling for those responsible to be held accountable.
An independent team from the National Police Agency has been investigating the Itaewon tragedy, and on Wednesday, South Korea's ruling and opposition political parties agreed to launch a parliamentary probe into the disaster.