The Seoul Halloween Disaster

By: Travis Young—Correspondent

Disaster struck in Seoul, South Korea at a Halloween gathering when 156 people were killed and 173 were injured, including 1 US college student and a handful of other people from around the world.

 In a crowd surge, over 150 people passed away due to being trampled in Seoul, South Korea where they were holding a large-scale Halloween gathering throughout the city while they were under police watch. In these narrow, packed, and sloped streets is where the tragedy struck. And, because of the cars on the street at the time, the emergency vehicles could not reach these people who needed to be treated the most.

The police had taken full responsibility for this tragedy, saying that they had received multiple calls about the incident, but the police officers that got the message didn’t respond adequately. “I feel a heavy responsibility as the head of one of the related government offices and I pray that the police will do their best to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again,” said Yoon Hee-Keun, the commissioner general of the Korean National Police Agency. 

There were a total of 137 police officers on the scene when it happened, and it was still a very big event even with all those police officers. Also, on the same day, they sent out 7,000 police officers to monitor a protest of only 10,000+ people. The estimated attendance of that Halloween gathering was about 100,000 people. But, they say that they sent out the police officers to focus on narcotic use, not crowd control.

The last time there was a man-made disaster as big as this in South Korea was in 2014, when a ferry sank due to crew error, killing 304 people, 250 being high school students. For the families who lost their children to the ferry disaster, this seems all too familiar. Kwon Oh-Hyun, who is a singer, and sadly, his brother had perished in this ferry event. This event affected him so emotionally that it changed how he writes his songs. “Before my brother’s death, I was really into upbeat music, but after that, I could only write or perform sad songs,” he said.

The mayor of Seoul, Oh Se-hoon, has apologized deeply and said that he saw someone whose daughter was injured in the event, but found out she didn’t make it. “When I tried to comfort a person with a daughter hospitalized at the National Medical Center yesterday, they said their daughter would survive and they believed so, but I have now heard she passed away this morning. I am sorry that my apology has come late.” he said.

On November 1st, the President of South Korea, Yoon Suk Yeol, and others around the country joined to mourn the losses of these people. “My heart is aching a lot, as all the victims were like my grandchildren,” said a 74-year-old lady named Chung Kil-soon, who was at one of the many mourning sights in Seoul.

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