K-Weekly: A week of mourning for South Korea

Graphic by Camilla Samuel

This week’s K-Weekly will cover a much more serious and heavy topic out of respect for the events that occurred in Seoul on Oct. 29. 

South Korea has entered a week of mourning after the tragic events that took place in the Itaewon district of Seoul this past weekend that resulted in the death of over 150 people. 

The South Korean district of Itaewon is a popular clubbing and dinner spot for young people and its popularity only skyrocketed during the weekend of Halloween. With this year being the first one in the past three where the annual Halloween Festival did not require masks and other COVID-19 measures, about 100,000 people from all over the world crowded the district’s narrow and small alleys. 

On Saturday night, one of these slightly sloped alleys was the scene of a deadly crowd rush resulting in high numbers of people falling to the ground and being crushed. Several people reported an inability to breathe and went into cardiac arrest. Several pictures depict emergency professionals and citizens performing CPR on fallen bodies. Victims were taken to nearby hospitals, and those who did not require immediate medical attention were sent to a gymnasium in Itaewon.

With a rising total of over 150 declared dead, this has been the most deadly event in the country since the sinking of the MV Sewol ferry that occurred in 2014 and resulted in the loss of 304 lives, most of whom were high schoolers. Among the dead are at least 26 foreign citizens, including two Americans, as well as South Korean actor Lee Ji-Han. Most of the lives lost were young adults.

The crowd control and security designated for the festival were not strong enough or detailed enough to prevent this tragedy from happening. While there was security and police presence for the festival, they were mainly posted for drug use and regulation, not crowd control. 

There are measures that can be taken in order to prevent such tragedies from happening again, such as crowd control and teaching tactics for escaping large crowds and small venues. In response to this tragedy, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has promised to take action to prevent this from happening again, specifics of which we do not yet know. 

Following this tragedy, South Korea will recognize this week of mourning: All government flags in the country will be lowered to half staff, and entertainment companies will postpone content release.

As more information comes forward from the investigation to the public and the families and friends of the injured and deceased, regards go out to all who are affected.

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