Halloween is one of the most celebrated events in parts of the world, especially in the US. Being inspired by America, the Far East also follows the event’s trend. Far-eastern countries are known to be quite dedicated to celebrating all kinds of occasions in their country. South Korea is one of the countries that take all the annual festivals seriously. With the arrival of October, the country is adorned with different hues of orange decorations, including skeletons and pumpkins to welcome Halloween. Just like any other year, on Halloween weekend, people left their houses to join the festivities and party the night away at Itaewon, a district in Seoul, South Korea. Itaewon is popular for being home to the infamous nightclubs in the country. Little did the party-goers know, that their excitedly planned Halloween night would turn into their worst nightmare.
On the eve of 29th October 2022, which marked Halloween 2022 festivities, the Yongsan Fire station received numerous calls informing about the occurrence of a human stampede in the night-club friendly area. Party fanatics who had goals of dancing the night away, were crushed under the seas of humans in the alleyway next to the famous Hamilton Hotel in Itaewon. The night that was meant to be filled with hoots and cheers of laughter ended with more than 149 people dead and 82 critically injured. The fun Halloween event turned into a real Halloween horror night, as one would see normally in a slasher movie. According to a passer-by, the site was filled with brutal and graphic scenarios. So what went wrong and why did the city fell a victim to such a heart-wrenching incident? Read ahead to find out.
What Caused the much-dreaded Human Stampede in Seoul?
I am sure the fans of Halloween day, had not expected this sort of ending to the most awaited event of the year. They must have left their homes, dressed in their best Halloween theme costumes. While many may have made plans to catch up with friends at the clubs in the area, others might be heading out to treat themselves to alcoholic beverages and party hard over the weekend. The Halloween event this year gained a lot of popularity in South Korea as compared to previous years the occurrence was the first no-mask event in three years post-Covid Pandemic. Since the event had no restrictions of limited socialization or wearing uncomfortable masks, the crowd was expected to be larger than the usual numbers. Itaewon was prepared for a huge gathering and had deployed more than 200 officers to monitor the human traffic for the notorious Halloween Weekend.
As per usual, the officers were focused on catching illegal activities that involved the usage of drugs, unlawful filming, and abuse, without having a slight hint about what was going to go down in the next few hours. In an alleyway that was located next to Hamilton Hotel that measured four meters in width only, a large sea of humans got trapped in it.
The stampede got far worse from the crowd flooding in from the two exits of the subway stations. As narrated by the news channels, and people who were unfortunate to eye-witness such a Halloween horror night event stated, people fell like dominoes over each other but cries for help were not heard due to the extremely loud music played by the clubs in the area. Once the calls were received, ambulances were soon dispatched for their aid. Sadly, the medical automobile was not able to make its way further down the road, as the ill-informed party-goers on the main road, were busy dancing and partying, blocking access to the distressed area. Once the Paramedics reached the victims, they try to make space in an attempt to give CPR to the ones fighting cardiac arrest and difficulty breathing. So far, the cause of the incident is unclear but there have been many speculations about what caused the fearful human stampede on Halloween Night.
Speculations about What Caused the Human Stampede in Itaewon
While many are still shocked after what followed in the area of Itaewon on the night of Halloween 2022, there are numerous speculations doing rounds made by netizens and the media channels in the country. As narrated by MBC, also known as Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation, it is suggested by the eye-witnesses in the area, that a celebrity was spotted in one of the venues located in the region where the stampede took place. It is assumed, the large crowd gathered in the alley to witness the public figure. However, on the other hand, people also speculated that due to the minimum movement of human traffic, there were pushes applied from the back which caused the people to lose balance and fall over each other. For now, the cause remains unidentified and the investigation is in the process to figure out how Halloween theme weekend turned into a disaster.
Number of Deaths and Wounded Individuals
As the victims were carried out in body bags and in ambulances on the fearful Halloween night, initially the total count of deaths caused by the incident was noted as up to 149, and 76 were critically injured. Out of 149 dead, two were recognized as foreign nationals, while out of 76, 15 were labeled as Non-Koreans. Earlier, Choi Sung Bum, the head of the Yongsan Fire station suggested a surge in the number of deaths as the injured sufferers were in critical condition. After a few hours, the toll of dead victims raised to 151, out of which 15 are set to be from countries like China, Iran, Uzbekistan, Norway, and others. While 82 remained hospitalized, 19 still remained in sensitive condition.
President Yoon Suk Yeol Announces Mourning Period Nation Wide
Saddened by the disaster caused on Halloween Day, President Yoon Suk Yeol showed his support for the relatives of the victims and in preparations for their funerals. He further commented to make the recovery of injured individuals the government’s top priority and go through the safety measures for all other cultural and entertainment occurrences in the country. He paid a visit to the scene where the party scene turned into a true Halloween horror night and got in touch about the details with the emergency representatives. The South-Korean President has declared a national mourning period in respect of the people who lost their lives during the Halloween weekend.
Since the mourning period is declared in the country, many K-pop Idol events are postponed, including the Running Man episode which is supposed to feature Jin of BTS. After the news about the horrifying Halloween event, all the world leaders have come forward to pay their condolences to the grieving country. German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, French President, Emmanuel Macron, American President, Joe Biden, British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, and Japanese Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida came forward with heart-warming and supportive words for South Korea and the families of the deceased.