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S Korea in shock, grief after 153 die in Halloween crowd surge

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

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30 Comments
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Truly an unbelievable tragedy. This has to be the worst Halloween related accident in history, never seen even in countries where Halloween is actually tradition.

7 ( +17 / -10 )

I remember going to Shibuya for New Years countdown 2018. They stupidly closed off the crossing and pushed all the crowds up towards the women's 109 building. Absolutely crazy packed with people. At one point the crowd swelled, people were complaining, some couldn't breath. Some people had even brought young toddlers with them. I'm a tall guy, healthy and strong but even I was feeling difficult to breath due to the pressure of people against me. Fortunately the police opened up a back alleyway that people could flow through. But that could have been a disaster. Sometimes crowd control such as closing off areas can make an even bigger problem.

15 ( +20 / -5 )

Shibuya take note and do something to prevent such tragedies.

1 ( +12 / -11 )

Those narrow alleyways in the Itaewon are designed for 3-4 people shoulder to shoulder. Max. Insanity to think thousands of people were permitted to pack into them. It must have been frightening and terrifying. I feel claustrophobic and nauseous just watching footage of all those people packed in.

Rest In Peace to all the victims.

Please, please - in cities that are packed like sardines- confine Halloween, New Years etc partying to designated areas like bars and pubs. Shibuya included.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

Some Japanese media are reporting that the reason for the crowd surge was that word was quickly passing through the crowd that a Korean singing star was at a location in that area, and the crowd was rushing to see him. I haven't seen this in any of the English reports (only a few) I've read.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

The goverment of Seul let this happen, it was obvious and foreseeable that a lot of people would come out now that their restrictions have been mostly lifted, but apparently nobody even considered having enough people on the street to prevent something like this. Now hundreds of families will have to mourn something that could have been prevented.

-3 ( +8 / -11 )

Hopefully lessons will be learned from this tragedy. Luckily the streets in Tokyo are not as narrow as this one, and people are used to being in crowded places and are able to handle the situation.

-13 ( +1 / -14 )

Only two groups can be blamed for this disaster, the local police crowd control unit and event organizers they all failed mIserably.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Who is accountable?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Some Japanese media are reporting that the reason for the crowd surge was that word was quickly passing through the crowd that a Korean singing star was at a location in that area, and the crowd was rushing to see him.

If this is true, then we can plainly see the terrible consequences that can come with the mindless cult of celebrity in the present age of the spectacle. Another Korean-size tragedy so soon after the harrowing sinking of the Sewol that took 300 young lives. This Halloween celebration whose origin was to drive away ghosts and falling before the day to remember departed Christian saints has now created a remembrance of innocent lives lost. The lesson from this tragedy is that we can never take safety for granted when large crowds gather. The world now mourns with their loved ones and Halloween in Korea will never be the same.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Think of all the time and energy to raise those children into adults. Some were probably only child's of families. Then it's all ended in some madness you can't even imagine. So sad.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Given this horrible tragedy at Itaewon, I would not be surprised that the metropolitan government of every major city in Japan cracks down on any Halloween night gathering. Expect a major police presence at Shibuya, Shinjuku and Ikebukuro and places like Harajuku/Omotesando and Shimo-Kitazawa in Tokyo to discourage the type of crowds that could result in dangerous conditions.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Once you have a been a parent to a child , this is your worst nightmare

Losing a child to something like this , which shouldn't have happened.

I feel the pain and send a loving hug to you.

So sad to witness this from Japan

12 ( +13 / -1 )

Five days of national mourning.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

MarkToday  07:27 pm JST

Only two groups can be blamed for this disaster, the local police crowd control unit and event organizers they all failed mIserably.

The people responsible are the people who packed themselves into that area.

5 ( +12 / -7 )

I remember going to Shibuya for New Years countdown 2018. They stupidly closed off the crossing and pushed all the crowds up towards the women's 109 building. Absolutely crazy packed with people. 

You cant pay me enough to go even near to these crowds!! It actually took me quite long (into my early 20s) and a few "attempts" to finally understand there was nothing wrong with me and I wasnt really missing out anything by not going "have fun" in these super crowded clubs/events. Unfortunately nothing changes and young people are still being lured into these kinds of places.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

This can happen anywhere and very quickly. Avoid crowds or leave even at the hint of a rush/stampede

5 ( +7 / -2 )

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol ordered a national day of mourning and ordered flags at publc buildings and offices flown at half mast. This action of President Yoon is appreciated by the whole country and the world. It was also his duty to have foreseen that thousands upon thousands of the city's and country's young people set free after two years by the mask free lifting of covid regulations would have over flooded the narrow streets in the popular Itaewon area on Halloween night. More than two hundred years ago the German writer, playwright and philosopher Goethe wrote: Activity without insight is a terrible thing.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Absolutely tragic. This is so sad and horrifying and my heart goes out to all the families and friends who have lost a loved one.

I've been to Itaewon and the charm of that place are the small alleyways along the hilly areas, but due to its popularity it does get really crowded.

I think this accident could definitely have been prevented with proper crowd management... the local authorities should've been well aware of how busy the area ca become during Halloween... I just hope they learn this time and enforce some proper measures.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Horrible tragedy. It was a culmination of events that caused it. I don't think anyone could have foreseen this from happening.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I don't think anyone could have forseen this from happening

That's ridiculous !

The authorities knew this was the largest social event in the area due to past years of experience and they neglected to have adequate safety measures contingency planning because they are incompetent !

I feel so sad for all those people that died or injured.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

People throw caution too the wind ,for a little fun and excitement

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

You couldn’t pay me to go anywhere near this sort of thing, I much prefer your favorite onsen, any time of the year.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This is about South Korea dropping the ball, yet some still bring up Japan in the conversation.

The reality is Japanese handle disasters, times of crisis better then most countries around the world including South Korea.

We have more people then Korea, small streets and narrow roads, but we don't walk on top of one another during crisis and disaster! We don't continue the party while over 150 are dead, but that's exactly what happened that night, with parties still going on like nothing happened!

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

@wallace

Who is accountable?

1) The conservative mayor : He didn't add police force and left it to be short manned after no. 2.

2) The president : He commutes from his home in Gangnam everyday instead of living in the presidential palace(Blue House), and this took away 700 police officers in guarding his residence(he lives in a luxury apartment flat so the entire complex must be guarded) and his commute route 24/7.

@Stephen Chin

This action of President Yoon is appreciated by the whole country

Yoon is not being appreciated, he is being blamed as the root cause of the police manpower shortage that caused this disaster.

The situation is so bad that his conservative party's legislators are demanding Yoon to leave the party so that they can claim to be the opposition party, as it's becoming obvious the conservatives would be wiped out and the liberals extend their supermajority with them polling 20% ahead of the conservatives in the next general election. 

@kuruki

I think this accident could definitely have been prevented with proper crowd management... the local authorities should've been well aware of how busy the area ca become during Halloween

This was the case when the liberal mayor was in charge, so nothing happened when the crowds were even bigger in the past due to the pre-emptive crowd management by police. This year, the number of police put into crowd management was less than 200 vs more than 1,000 by the former liberal mayor.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

What a tragedy..

That's why I never participate in these types of events.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

It was reported that about five males started pushing the crowd from the back which initiated the disaster. I remember watching the Bastille day parade in Paris when about three males deliberately pushed the crowd for about 40 meters causing many people to fall on each other

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Awa no Gaijin

That's ridiculous !

The authorities knew this was the largest social event in the area due to past years of experience and they neglected to have adequate safety measures contingency planning because they are incompetent !

I feel so sad for all those people that died or injured.

Your statement is ridiculous. You cannot tell me that the authorities or you knew that there was going to be multiple times more people visiting than previous years in the area, knew that thousands of people would all push into and crowd one small alleyway, and then a massive stampede is triggered because allegedly people were trying to see some celebrity was nearby in the area or because massive amounts of people were trapped and pushing to get out. That is just conjecture.

It is just a really unfortunate tragedy. However, the authorities can now implement measures to try prevent it happening in the future.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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