President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday offered an official apology on behalf of the government to dozens of victims and families of people who lost their lives due to a once hot-selling product used to disinfect household humidifiers that turned out to be toxic.
“I offer my sincere consolation to parents who had to face long and arduous times without any help or comfort, those who are facing difficult times after losing their health and their suffering families,” the president said in a meeting with 15 victims and their families at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.
“Today, as the president, I offer my sincere apology on behalf of the government,” he added.
The apology marked the first of its kind from the government since the tragic incident came to light in late 2011, long before the incumbent president came into office in May this year.
“The biggest reason the government exists is to protect the lives and safety of the people. But up until now, the government has evidently failed to prevent damage from the humidifier disinfectant, and also failed to actively deal with the damage even after such damage took place,” Moon said.
Earlier, the Environment Ministry said it will introduce a new review system by 2019 to check the safety of all household chemical products before they hit the local market.
The toxic humidifier disinfectant is said to have killed 73 South Koreans while affecting some 110 others here. Reckitt Benckiser of the United Kingdom,one of the manufacturers, is currently facing a series of criminal trials and damage suits.
Moon promised government support for the victims. “This is a case that has a private company that must take responsibility, but the government too will faithfully provide support with a sense of its own responsibility,” he said, according to Cheong Wa Dae pool reports. The support for the victims and their families may include financial compensation, he noted.—APP