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Crush kills at least 151 at Halloween festivities in Seoul

75 Comments
By KIM TONG-HYUNG and HYUNG-JIN KIM

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The responsibility of this disaster falls fully on the government of Seoul, letting the festivities be hold means they were expecting huge number of people on the street, and obviously they did not have proper safety and control measures in place.

2 ( +28 / -26 )

You wouldn't allow that many people in a stadium or event, so why allow it on a street.

I don't go to mass gatherings, just worried my kids might want to go. A stampede can start for any reason and then you aren't in control anymore.

17 ( +26 / -9 )

Horrific. Foreigners are seen in the crowds.

100,000 and narrow streets.

Video of the Halloween none of the crush.

https://youtu.be/YFGPAN77PMo

3 ( +10 / -7 )

Absolute tragedy. Rest in Peace to all the victims. I fear the death toll will top 200.

The authorities always must closely control/restrict massive events like this or risk what has unfolded. Hard to even fathom the scale of this disaster.

10 ( +19 / -9 )

Im still trying to figure out how one can die by being crushed! What does that mean anyway "crushed"?

-53 ( +3 / -56 )

IIRC, the trains in that area don't run 24/7 - they stop at late night

So those who are already in the area, and those who didn't hear about the news in time, got trapped in the area, with no mass public transportation out of the area, until the trains start back up around 5am

Not only for Halloween, but the area is known for mass social gathering for a Saturday night out. So add in the Halloween revelers for the first mass gathering in 2 years due to the pandemic, that's how ya get 100k all trapped in the same area at the same time

RIP FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)

4 ( +7 / -3 )

This is absolutely horrific and shocking beyond words. A lot of young lives, that went out for a fun evening, have been lost. Families are going to be waking up to the news that their sons and daughters won't be returning home.

This is heart breaking and my deepest thoughts are with the families of the deceased and the emergency workers who have had to deal with scenes that are beyond comprehension.

And what to do next? The SK government need to take action. I've been to Itaewon during the day and those streets are far too narrow for the amount of foot traffic that Itaewon receives on a daily basis.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

It was not immediately clear what led the crowd to surge into the narrow downhill alley near the Hamilton Hotel, a major party spot in Seoul. One survivor said many people fell and toppled one another “like dominos” after they were being pushed by others.

Itaewon is basically the Seoul analogue of Tokyo's Roppongi .

I can't imagine the density of the crowds in the narrow streets on the hills in these areas that led to this.

Some post-COVID event that should have been better planned?

6 ( +9 / -3 )

wtfjapan?Today  06:32 am JST

Im still trying to figure out how one can die by being crushed! What does that mean anyway "crushed

Really? Okay then, here you go:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crowd_collapses_and_crushes

This is a really sad bit of news. Very sorry ffor the people and their families.

11 ( +16 / -5 )

Wow! That's really bad. I wonder what made people surge?

Stay safe

3 ( +5 / -2 )

This seems very terrible.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I never expect such a thing to happen in a modern city like Seoul. How can panic happen that quickly and cause such damages?

Condolence to the families.

6 ( +12 / -6 )

what kind of "festivity" or "celebration" is that?what did they have "celebrated"?

weird herd...

-22 ( +5 / -27 )

Reminds me of when I lived in Yongin. Lining up at the bus stop was not a normal practice in Seoul until only a couple years ago. During rush hour, people crowded around my usual bus stop in Gangam, and when the bus came, they would swarm around it before it came to a full stop, pushing each other and sometimes knocking over ajumeoni.

I often a saw complete disregard for other people, for which I partially blame the culture of rushing (bbali bbali).

20 ( +23 / -3 )

A senseless unnecessary tragedy.

Sincere condolences to the families of the perished and to the injured.

I hope they identify the 6 men who allegedly caused the stampede.

We must all consider safety carefully when planning to attend any event with large crowds.

-9 ( +5 / -14 )

I wonder what made people surge

Apparently an escaped bystander witnessed 6 men pushing and toppling people over and thats what allegedly caused the panic driven stampede into the alley

-8 ( +4 / -12 )

How sad, 146 and more young lives lost for NOTHING.

The local authorities have failed to predict and plan for this major event, a lesson they will never forget.

People been locked up for 2 years and now they have their freedom, local authorities should have anticipated this crown and what may come with it and got prepared.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Shibuya can also get this crowded, but I still believe people here can be a little bit more considerate and less savage, still you never know…. imagine raising your kid with all the love of the world just to end like this. Hopefully my son will have a distaste for crowds just like his parents.

10 ( +15 / -5 )

I don’t know about the “authorities should have done something” idea. People have to make responsible, rational decisions for a free society to exist.

I wouldn’t go there if I knew or saw how many people were crowding into the area. Would you?

1 ( +9 / -8 )

@Awa no Gaijin

Apparently an escaped bystander witnessed 6 men pushing and toppling people over and thats what allegedly caused the panic driven stampede into the alley

No, the crushing started from a narrow hilly street. This part of the street was identified as a danger point from the crowd management perspective and were blocked off during the term of last liberal mayor so nothing happened even when the crowds were actually bigger in the past.

The current conservative mayor massively cut back the police presence to just 200 and left the danger point open, so people were crushed when the street was packed and caused a chain reaction when somebody slipped.

All the press is calling this a man-made disaster and a criminal neglect of duty by the city administration.

8 ( +14 / -6 )

Hopefully the authorities ban such events next year. No need for it in Asian countries like Japan. It is an American tradition.

-21 ( +8 / -29 )

This is the origin point of the crush that was historically sealed off by past liberal mayor's administration as means of a proactive crowd management(Halloween parties were bigger before the pandemic), but criminally left open by the conservative mayor's administration.

https://twitter.com/akuhnNPRnews/status/1586467165771018240

5 ( +9 / -4 )

@Japantime

Hopefully the authorities ban such events next year.

No need to ban it, just go back to past proactive crowd control policy in effect by past liberal mayoral administration. This is being labeled a man-made disaster caused by the criminal neglect on the part of current conservative mayor's administration.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

This is a tragic example of why the Shibuya Halloween festivities must NOT go ahead on the street. People in Japan famously love Halloween - no problem with that - but partying should take place inside bars, pubs, restaurants, izakaya and karaoke boxes.

I hope the authorities come down hard on those partying in the streets.

-9 ( +9 / -18 )

Hopefully the authorities ban such events next year. No need for it in Asian countries like Japan. It is an American tradition.

What are you going to ban next? Christmas parties in Asia? No. Halloween should absolutely go ahead - but INSIDE establishments that have strict adherence to number of people allowed.

BTW - Halloween is not "American".

5 ( +14 / -9 )

Absolutely Tragic :(

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I never expect such a thing to happen in a modern city like Seoul. How can panic happen that quickly and cause such damages?

years of Serious Covid restrictions and the final lifting of these?

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

A stampede is deadly, suffocating even young healthy people. A safe distance and stable flow of movement should be maintained.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Japantime: "Hopefully the authorities ban such events next year. No need for it in Asian countries like Japan. It is an American tradition."

Hallowe'en is an event with more than 2000 years of history, longer than pretty much anything in Japan, and it's customs and traditions spread from Ancient Celtic culture to modern American. The custom of mobbing a downtown urban area is only a recent part of it, and that comes from nowhere but here -- you know, cities in South Korea and Japan where you see people shoving to get on already over-crowded trains, and more. You can't and don't ban a festival or holiday because of lax security or management, you eliminate such lapses in judgement.

And do a little learning about the history of such practices before passing judgement.

10 ( +16 / -6 )

Sami Basu

It’s really unlike America where defund ( reduce) the police is a liberal move, not a conservative one.

-11 ( +2 / -13 )

“ Itaewon, near where the former headquarters of U.S. military forces in South Korea operated before moving out of the capital in 2018, is known for its trendy bars, clubs and restaurants. “

And also, when I hear the name Itaewon, I think about the drama, Itaewon Class; and the more recent Japanese remake, Roppongi Class. ( both very good and highly recommended )

It was not immediately clear what led the crowd to surge into the narrow downhill alley near the Hamilton Hotel, a major party spot in Seoul. “

From what I’m hearing, apparently some people heard that a celebrity had visited a particular bar and they wanted to get there; the confusion/chaos started there; this obsession that people have for celebrities is something that should be discussed; people need to understand the psychology behind that obsession.

RIP to all the victims and strength and courage to their families and a quick recovery to the survivors.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

A crowd of 100,000 is a recipe for disaster even in a controlled stadium let alone uncontrolled on narrow streets and where law enforcement has no priority access. What was the police thinking to even allow the event to take place in the first place?

Somebody, someone didn't want to pay public liability insurance, 149+ people paid for it with their life.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

I remember being crushed in a crowd on Christmas Eve after leaving office in Marunouchi area in 2018. It was a horrible experience. They put up Christmas lights on the trees along the footpaths the people just came in large numbers and the buildings on both sides around Marunouchi walkway just blocked people’s movement and contributed to the crushing. All these just go see those damn lights on the trees which isn’t that attractive to watch yet people just wanted to see it. From that time I always took December 24th as dayoff or half day ( remote work during Covid ) to avoid the crowd in Marunouchi as it’s also a disaster waiting to happen. That area is one of the worst on Christmas Eve with the rowdy crowds trying to see the plain boring one colored lights.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Here is Shibuya yesterday - already crowded.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyGPQbkfRMQ

I think Tokyo policemen are more concerned this year because of the incident by a man in Joker costume in Tokyo subway last year and now this accident in Korea.

Hopefully this is going to be a happy one.

Here is our Tokyo governor in Halloween costume a few years ago:

https://www.sankei.com/photo/story/news/161029/sty1610290008-n1.html

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This is so sad. Poor young people.

Beware of very crowded places. It didn't take much to spark a stampede.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

@Chibakun

Not in Korea but they did allow too many people into a soccer stadium and more than 130 people were crushed to death in a stampede in Indonesia earlier this month.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

It's a party town....

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

This horrific. My condolences to the victims and their families and friends.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@memoryfix

It’s really unlike America where defund ( reduce) the police is a liberal move, not a conservative one.

In Korea, the liberals are all for "tax and spend" while the conservatives are for "cut spending to give tax cut to the wealthy."

Police isn't considered an evil institution to be defunded in Korea since there are no race driven police violence like you see in the US, rather an essential public service where more is better, so the liberals want more of it.

It is just that the conservatives don't want to expand policing so that they can give a tax cut to the wealthy.

4 ( +10 / -6 )

A mass public event without proper planning, stewarding and road closures by the authorities means this sort of tragedy is much, much more likely to occur.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Horrible...reminds me of a concert my friend in high school went to in 1979, The Who, at Riverfront in Cincinnati OH. I think 11 kids died in a crush, and he told me it was all he could do to stay on his feet. I don't know the area, but surely there had to be some sort of crowd control that could have diverted these kids in Seoul to a larger street.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Pretty terrible news. Condolences go out to the families. Rest in peace to the deceased.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

So you are also anti Christmas parties and Valentines day in Japan - among others?

If they become performative drunken celebrations of capitalism via public orgies of hedonism and antisocial behaviour, then, actually, yes.

TT

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

There was a similar incident in Kobe about 20 years ago in which a crowd at a festival surged into a pedestrian bridge all at once, resulting in a crush that killed several people.

This is why crowd control is so important. No individual in a crowd of that size can control what the crowd as a whole is doing, so police need to have plans to keep the crowds moving. Perhaps this was the result of a larger crowd than was expected and planned for. Very tragic.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I can’t believe they cut the number of police for that area. They have heaps of “baby police” due to some of the mandatory military service guys being funneled into police service. This could have been avoided. Even on a regular Saturday night those roads off the Main Street of Itaewon are uncomfortably crowded. I’m so glad my friends still living there are ok.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

A night of horror and it seems to be a lack of crowd control. Someone needs to answer for it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

At least 19 foreigners are among more than 150 dead.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The hallowed Halloween?

Such tragedy happens, it had, & it will again.

Remember extreme ecstasy often leads to torturous agony..

0 ( +2 / -2 )

hat kind of "festivity" or "celebration" is that?what did they have "celebrated"?

All Saint's Day, a.k.a. Halloween. It is a day to remember those who have passed on. Similar to Japanese Obon. In my country we visit the graves of family members and light a candle. Though, US, and their followers, have turned this important day into an abomination...

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@Fredrik

All Saint's Day, a.k.a. Halloween. It is a day to remember those who have passed on. Similar to Japanese Obon. In my country we visit the graves of family members and light a candle. Though, US, and their followers, have turned this important day into an abomination...

Precisely. Well said.

You’d get short shrift here if you pranced around in public every Obon in drag, drunkenly bawling your head off, vomiting and passing out in the street and on trains, smashing stuff and sacrilegiously annoying innocent bystanders. You’d be arrested, and rightly so.

So why is it okay to pull those sort of irresponsible antisocial stunts at ‘Halloween’ (sic).

TT

0 ( +3 / -3 )

> Fighto!Today  06:20 am JST

Absolute tragedy. Rest in Peace to all the victims. I fear the death toll will top 200.

The authorities always must closely control/restrict massive events like this or risk what has unfolded. Hard to even fathom the scale of this disaster.

I barely remember the Who show in Cincinnati that resulted in 12 people dead from a stampede. When I went to a U2 concert in Oakland, California in 1987, there was a brief moment where such an incident could've happened. I was pinned against a chain fence, but somehow the crowd was controlled, and the rush dissipated.

151 at Halloween festivities? This is mind-blowing, totally insane. RIP to the victims and their survivors.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

What an absolute tragedy. So many people out enjoying themselves and then suddenly life is over.

I was watching some YouTube livestreams last night of the Halloween party in Shibuya. There were literally thousands of police and security guards EVERYWHERE telling the crowds to keep moving and be orderly. The sounds of loudspeakers were nonstop. At the time it seemed like overkill to me but the Japanese authorities were clearly prepared and proactive.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Horrific. Foreigners are seen in the crowds.

Not sure what to make of this statement. A lot to unpack.

No doubt this will be the excuse Japanese authorities will use to end the yearly party in Shibuya that they so hate.

It'll be too late to do anything tonight but I predict next year's response will be draconian.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

I hope the families of the victims will recover.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

master

   Horrific. Foreigners are seen in the crowds.

> Not sure what to make of this statement. A lot to unpack.

Having watched a long video I was surprised to see many foreigners in the crowds. Some might be US troops. At least 15 foreigners were killed.

Terrible and tragic for all involved.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Footage just coming in showing Itaewon revellers dancing and partying on - beside the ambulances loading the victims. For some, the party had to go on, in spite of the tragedy. Unbelievable, shocking scenes.

The mayor and other politicians responsible for this complete lack of regulation and recklessness should probably be jailed for manslaughter.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Having watched a long video I was surprised to see many foreigners in the crowds.

Seoul - like Tokyo and Kyoto - is very much on the radar of foreign tourists and expats these days. Not surprising that 10-20 percent of the tragic victims are foreign.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

This is a tragic example of why the Shibuya Halloween festivities must NOT go ahead on the street.

From what I remember, Itaewon streets are much more bumpy and narrow than Shibuya.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Halloween is over-commercialised nonsense; ask anyone "celebrating" just what exactly they are celebrating and what is the meaning of Halloween and see the blank stares.

All Saint's Day, a.k.a. Halloween. It is a day to remember those who have passed on.

Halloween is derived from All-Hallows Eve i.e. the evening before All Hallows or All Saints Day.

All Saints' Day

On May 13, A.D. 609, Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome in honor of all Christian martyrs, and the Catholic feast of All Martyrs Day was established in the Western church. Pope Gregory III later expanded the festival to include all saints as well as all martyrs, and moved the observance from May 13 to November 1.

By the 9th century, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands, where it gradually blended with and supplanted older Celtic rites. In A.D. 1000, the church made November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. It’s widely believed today that the church was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, church-sanctioned holiday.

All Souls’ Day was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels and devils. The All Saints’ Day celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the traditional night of Samhain in the Celtic religion, began to be called All-Hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

The alleyway where it happened is very narrow, less than 2 meters, and should have been closed off.

On Google

https://www.google.com/maps/@37.5345043,126.9934139,19.5z/data=!4m2!21m1!1s%2Fg%2F11sb5325w9

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Sympathies to the families, a tragedy that requires a thorough investigation

Ban Halloween. All Hallows Eve?

Pope Gregory IV will be turning in his crypt at St. Peter's Basilica.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

wtfjapan?Today  06:32 am JST

“ Im still trying to figure out how one can die by being crushed! What does that mean anyway "crushed"? “

1) broken bones (you can’t control your body’s movements); 2) extreme oxygen deprivation/asphyxiation/cardiac arrest; the crowd crush can stop your lungs from expanding and you suffocate, the compression is so strong that the blood doesn’t flow properly anymore and if you faint, you are not allowed to fall to the ground due to the surrounding pressure (which would allow the blood to flow back to your brain), your heart becomes overworked and you get a heart attack.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Im still trying to figure out how one can die by being crushed! What does that mean anyway "crushed"?

If you've never experienced it, it might be difficult to conceive or imagine, but its something similar to being at the front of a rock concert or even on a packed train during peak hour. However, you have nothing to hold on to and so you become supported by the people around you. Once you lose your balance, you are at the mercy of the entire crowd. You get pushed, so do the people around you. I can't imagine what it would be like on a slope though with a narrow opening at the bottom.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

What is there to comment? With so many dead? The dead do not come back but, those alive must learn the important lesson NOT to go to places where hundreds or thousands of people go to whether it be an open part of the city or a hall where loud music is played, etc.etc.etc.etc.etc.etc.etc.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Crushed until you can no longer breathe.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Prayers for all the souls lost in such a way,

and for the families now forced to live without them...

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Who cares whether there were foreigners? Why are some people obsessed with this? A human life is a human life, no matter where they come from. Next, we'll be showing more concern toward certain refugees because they have white skin and blue eyes.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

I wasn’t putting the lives of foreigners at any higher concern than the loss of Koreans. After watching a 2 hour video about the Halloween I was surprised to see so many foreigners because of the covid.

I don’t know much about Seoul. Checking the numbers, about 250,000 foreigners living in Seoul.

If some posters want to try and make more of that than what I said, so be it.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

I will never again complain about the police presence at shibuya scramble for Halloween again. Their heavy handedness actually prevent tragedies like this from happening.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Just ban this before it happens. Halloween is just an excuse for some people to turn the city into a playground.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Samit

No,the crushing started from a narrow hilly street

Well.. since you obviously were there to witness first hand i couldn't possibly debate .

I just read the article as it said alley not street .

However at least my comment was sympathetic to the grieving.

I quote -

As the crowd surged into a narrow alley .

Perhaps you aren't aware of the difference between a street or an alley.

Other news sites also said alley.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

wtfjapan?Oct. 30  06:32 am JST

Im still trying to figure out how one can die by being crushed! What does that mean anyway "crushed"?

That's when there's a rush of people in a small area and the rush results in people getting knocked down and stepped on.

KumagaijinOct. 30  02:26 pm JST

Im still trying to figure out how one can die by being crushed! What does that mean anyway "crushed"?

If you've never experienced it, it might be difficult to conceive or imagine, but its something similar to being at the front of a rock concert or even on a packed train during peak hour. However, you have nothing to hold on to and so you become supported by the people around you. Once you lose your balance, you are at the mercy of the entire crowd. 

The mass of bodies gets overwhelming and panic makes it worse. A well-trained security force can handle these pleasure events so that they don't become a tragedy like this. RIP to the victims who just wanted to have fun, and condolences to their loved ones.

One way or another, there will no doubt be an investigation and inquiry about this and you better believe, heads are gonna ROLL.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

letsberealisticOct. 30  10:56 am JST

Walking in large crowds like the ones at hanabi are terrifying to be in because you can sense that if people suddenly panicking you could easily be crished with nowhere to go. Only did it a few times in Japan.

Yep I'm with you on that one. I had that very same feeling when at the Sumidagawa fireworks display 15 or so years ago and haven't been to one since.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The custom of mobbing a downtown urban area is only a recent part of it, and that comes from nowhere but here -- you know, cities in South Korea and Japan where you see people shoving to get on already over-crowded trains...

To be fair, this can happen anywhere including in the US and other Western countries, just anywhere there is a popular, wild event going on (evidence: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_human_stampedes_and_crushes). No country has a monopoly on recklessness or pushiness.

Or should I bring up drunk Australians in Makarska and Dubrovnik, inconsiderate Americans in Cancun, Danes in Prague, or young Brits in Malia, Corfu, Novalja, Hvar, Amsterdam, Albufeira etc. as "evidence" of their bad customs? Their reputations are not hard to google, but I don't like to generalise.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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