Many die on the streets of Itaewon


Courtesy of the Japan Times

The aftermath of the halloween activities in Itaewon

On October 29, 156 people died while 198 were injured in the crowd surge of almost 100,000 people in South Korea’s Itaewon, the hotspot of nightlife for South Koreans and foreign visitors. Many victims were reported to be in their 20s, while 26 were found to be foreigners.

Itaewon, the destination for many participants in Halloween festivities for the night, quickly became packed with tens of thousands of people wanting to experience the trendy restaurants and clubs – a little normalcy after the lift of the strict COVID-19 restrictions from the past two years.

Soon this became one of the worst peacetime disasters the nation has faced in decades.

Following several hours and reports of the tragedy, the country’s President, Yoon Suk-yeol, held an emergency meeting with his administration and called for an investigation into the cause of the incident. Yoon declared a nationwide mourning period from October 30 to November 5 and visited the scene the next day.

During the mourning period, the country has come to a moment of silence from their daily customs. National television programs have postponed their weekly airing. Celebrities have shown their respect through media platforms and the cancellation of their scheduled performances, concerts, and events. The streets of Itaewon that once blasted K-pop have since been quiet, with tributes being paid through the white chrysanthemums, notes, and additional items to honor the ones passed. The alleyway of the located tragedy has remained closed all week, with the stores and restaurants in the area voluntarily closing for the coming days.

With the police failing to protect the numerous victims that day, President Yoon is held in contempt by Korean citizens for inadequate security. A few days before the tragedy, the candlelight protest occurred near the Seoul municipal government office on October 22, rallying for Yoon’s resignation upon various accusations and claims.

The crowd crush has fueled the growing inadequacy of his time in office.

Despite weeks passing from the date of the incident, South Korea is still recovering from the historic disaster and continues to mourn for the 156 victims.