South Korea’s national police chief-designate resigned and withdrew from nomination Tuesday amid mounting pressure for him to step down over a police raid on protesters last month that left six people dead.
“Holding myself morally responsible for the Yongsan accident, I withdraw from the nomination for the head of the National Police Agency and also step down as the Seoul police chief,” Kim Seok-ki, head of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, was quoted as saying at a press briefing.
On Jan. 20, a police SWAT team raided a dilapidated four-story building in central Seoul to evict dozens of squatters opposing redevelopment of the area. Six people, including a police officer, were killed in the blaze that occurred during the pre-dawn raid.
Many have blamed Kim, nominated just two days before the incident by President Lee Myung-bak as the new national police chief, for permitting the raid despite knowing the protesters were armed with fire bombs and other flammables.