President Moon Jae-in on Monday ordered thorough inspections of all public and private facilities frequented by the people, also calling for new methods to inspect and ensure the safety of such facilities.
The call came after a fire at a large hospital in the southeastern city of Miryang left 37 people dead and more than 140 others injured. The latest tragedy came a few days after a fire at a sports complex in the central city of Jecheon killed 29 people.
"The people are feeling very sad to see large casualties caused by a series of fires," the president said in a weekly meeting with his aides at his office Cheong Wa Dae.
"The fundamental cause may lie in our past, when we ignored the importance of safety while focusing on external growth," he added, according to Cheong Wa Dae pool reports.
His remarks came amid opposition criticism that the new administration is responsible for the recent accidents due to its failure to prevent them through special inspections.
The ruling bloc, on the other hand, blames the now main opposition Liberty Korea Party, noting it had control of the government over the past 10 years. The Moon Jae-in administration took office in May 2017.
Moon said all are responsible, adding now is the time to work together to prevent any recurrence of such tragedies.
"No one may be free from this responsibility. I ask central and local governments, the National Assembly and political circles to take responsibility and help start building a safe Republic of Korea, at least from now," he said.
To this end, the president ordered special inspections of all public and private facilities frequently used by a large number of people.
He also said the inspections must not be cursory.
"I ask you not to just follow the existing inspection methods but to set up new methods to expose every problem, even if it takes time," the president said.
He also ordered the government to consider mandatory fire drills for large facilities.