the westminster news
Published by the students of Westminster School
Itaewon Crisis: The Tragedy of Halloween
By Mia Lee ’24
On Oct. 29, 2022, a Halloween party took place in Itaewon, Seoul, South Korea. The Halloween festival in Itaewon was banned for the past two years due to COVID. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic eased this year, Itaewon streets were again filled with music and lights.
Everyone overflowed with joy and excitement until the situation escalated. More than a hundred thousand people visited Itaewon, and many found themselves unable to move. One of the uphill roads became utterly packed with people, setting the tragedy in motion. People found themselves stuck between each other, and many began pushing each other. Shouting and screams echoed among the people, but there was no police power to control the problem, and as a result, more people stepped into the uphill road without knowing what was happening.
Countless people fainted or broke their legs and arms, falling on each other. Severe traffic and confusion delayed the arrival of police and rescue workers, worsening the situation. Some protected themselves by climbing up the stairs and buildings, and others were pulled to the side stairs by others who had escaped the crowd earlier. Still, numerous people were trapped inside the narrow hill, screaming and crying for their lives. When the police and rescue workers arrived, civilians and survivors volunteered to help clear the situation. Some worked with the rescue workers and assisted them with CPR to aid those who passed out. Many ambulance crews drove back and forth, sending people to hospitals and contacting their families. People faced their friends and families lying down on the ground, receiving CPR from the rescue crews and other volunteers, and all they could do was pray for their loved ones to survive.
More than 150 people died, and at least 80 were injured in this brutal Itaewon stampede. The majority of the people who died were college students and teenagers who were there to enjoy the night and celebrate Halloween. This calamity would have been preventable with tighter police control and better communication. Unfortunately, the lack of organized systems and confusion resulted in one of the most disastrous circumstances, where the lives of many vanished in a few hours. Now, sorrow engulfs Korean society. Therefore, the Korean government must stand firm and take responsibility for protecting its people. The ultimate task of the Korean government is to pay its respects to those who lost their families and friends by establishing a sophisticated rescue system and preventing similar accidents from happening again.
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