Halloween Tragedy Incident in Itaewon, South Korea


Rosa Morales and Janet Luna Rosales

Halloween has not historically been celebrated nationwide in South Korea like in America. So this year young adults wanted to go to Itaewon, which is popular among foreigners to Korea, to celebrate Halloween. So imagine 100,000  people coming to a little strip of a town, Itaewon, to celebrate Halloween for the first time.

It always gets packed every single year in this space anyway. But this year the Covid restriction was lifted, so everybody wanted to celebrate Halloween. It was not an official Festival or Event, but an unofficial event where people decided to gather here so that’s why there was no security guards or bodyguards or anything like that.

Itaewon has a lot of slopes just like an alleyway on top of masses of people gathering. There were flyers on the floor which made the floor slippery. Apparently, one person falling lead to a domino affect where everyone started to fall on the slope. Essentially, people were crushed and compressed by the mass weight because there were so many people. It was so hard to even pull one person out and by that time it was too late.

Out of 156 people killed over 100 are females in their 20’s and 30’s. Experts say this is due to females being smaller framed. 26 foreigners were killed from America, Sri Lanka, and China, including people in there 40’s  Even a K-pop  star who was in a big T.V show was killed as well. They are trying to investigate if there’s anyone responsible, which will be pretty hard to find. There were people hearing pull and other people were hearing push. So now you have thousands of people compressing within each other. This is truly heartbreaking. Hopefully, those who were hospitalized will be okay. The incident took 156 lives, and this number may rise.

The first call was made to police in South Korea at 6:34 pm -4 hours before the deadly crush. It is chilling. The caller warns people could be crushed to death.

“People are coming into the alley, but can’t get out. I barely escaped. It seems people could be crushed to death.” They then tell police what to do: “No one is controlling the alley right now. The police has to stand and control this. You should let people out first and then let people come in. People keep pouring in while they can’t get out.” There were another 10 calls before the incident took place.

Young Koreans were excited to go to Itaewon for Halloween because it offered a particular freedom, openness, and meeting of cultures like nowhere else in Seoul. It should have been a place to let your hair down and enjoy. For that energy, bottled for two years, to end up like this is just unbelievable. So many young people who haven’t fully experienced their life were lost so suddenly, so  tragically. Lessons should be learned to hopefully stop something like this happening ever again, by government and society, but we should also commemorate and remember those young women and men who were lost in their beautiful prime of life.