Tragedy Strikes South Korea with Halloween Stampede


Photo courtesy of NBCnews

Alexa Simone and Kadence Burke

On Saturday October 29, 2022, tragedy struck South Korea when a stampede of people trampled and killed 156 others. According to National Public Radio, there is not an exact cause as to how the stampede was started. However, police believe that as people started to become squished, it caused the crowd to panic. This created enormous waves of people in small, narrow streets during the festivities in the Itaewon district of Seoul. “There were just too many people. They didn’t even have a moment to feel scared,” said Park Kang-hyun, one of the witnesses of the stampede. On top of the 156 dead, the Los Angeles Times reported over 130 people that were injured.


National Public Radio said most of the people that had died had been identified by mid-morning on the next day. Unfortunately, it was also discovered that among the dead were at least two Americans. One of the individuals was a University of Kentucky student, Anne Giekse. Reuters said that most of the dead were in their 20’s and were also wearing colorful costumes. It was also noted that many of these people were with friends at the time.“I am deeply saddened by the loss of so many lives, to include the two young Americans celebrating alongside their Korean friends and others from around the world,” stated Philip Goldberg, the U.S. Ambassador of the Republic of Korea.


According to Reuters, police released four hours worth of transcripts of distressed calls on Tuesday, November 1st. Unfortunately, the majority of these calls were ignored by the police. Footage recorded by various people who had survived have been circulating online. The recordings show how horrific the experience was; many were screaming, pushing, and unable to move. According to National Public Radio, frightened victims tried to shove into businesses and find safety from the chaos outside. “We could hear some people in the crowd saying, don’t push, but someone in the back said, hey, push! Push! And people started screaming, and the crowd poured in toward our club,” said one of the workers of a club in Itaewon. 


After the event, The Los Angeles Times reported that the Prime Minister, Han Duck-Soo, was shamed by the Police Commander. The Prime Minister had made it clear that the Commander needed to improve emergency response and emergency crowd control. According to the Korea Herald, the Interior Minister, Lee Sang-min, stated “this does not seem to be an incident that could have been prevented by deploying more police or fire officers”. The Prime Minister then went on to call for a period of national mourning that was held until November 5th, at midnight. Their government announced that they will be paying for any damages done. This includes: funeral fees, medical bills, and consultation fees for those who are grieving a loved one.