A shocking video of a crowd in Itaewon pushing and screaming is doing the rounds on social media. The vibrant district fell victim to a devastating tragedy during Halloween celebrations on the night of October 29, 2022, leaving at least 154 dead.
Although officials have still not announced the cause of death, witnesses and survivors believe it to be a push from the top of the alley.
Footage circulating on social media and uploaded on theqoo, a popular South Korean online forum, clearly showed the domino effect as people started screaming and being pushed forward with no control over their movements.
Trigger warning: Disturbing footage
The incident occurred in a four-meter slope alleyway near the Hamilton Hotel in Itaewon, a bustling night-life district in Seoul. YouTuber Seon Yeo-jung, who was also stuck in the alley, mentioned in her Instagram stories that there were people cheering each other on, edging them to push others down the line.
In the viral video, one can hear screams and laughter intertwined as the crowd gets pushed forward.
Korean YouTuber details her experience of being stuck in the Itaewon crowd, corroborates witness claims of crowd pushing being the cause of the tragedy
Even before Park Seo-joon’s 2020 drama Itaewon Class broke into the mainstream media, Itaewon was already famous for its gay-friendly bars, open environment towards foreigners, and a vibrant nightlife.
This year, the district resumed Halloween celebrations after nearly two years of COVID, attracting about 100,000 people for the revelry. The celebrations turned deadly when many got stuck in a narrow alleyway, leading to 154 people becoming victims of the deadly crowd crush that followed.
YouTuber Seon Yeo-jung was one of the people in the entertainment district celebrating Halloween. She shared her account of what went down in the alleyway on her Instagram stories.
She mentioned that she was in front of the people at the top of the alley, who were enthusiastically shouting “We can win this” and “Push!” In no time, she was being shoved around too.
The YouTuber shared that some people were trying to make the crowd use the right-hand traffic rules, but the push turned into a sort of tug-and-war. Parts of Seon's account regarding the Itaewon tragedy are listed below in English, as per translation via Kbizoom.
Recalled the incident, Seon said:
“There were people behind my back shouting ‘Hey, push! We’re stronger. I’ll win’. Even if I went through the crowd on the right side, I didn’t just move as I wanted, but it felt like I was being pushed away.”
“At some point, the circulation got tangled and people suddenly pushed each other. Getting stuck in the space with strong forces like a tug-of-war as the pressure came from the back to the front and on both sides, my mind suddenly went blank.”
She also said:
“If the friend who went with me hadn’t caught me and helped me out, I would have fainted and collapsed on the ground.”
In her previous stories, she said that the Itaewon tragedy was straight out of a disaster movie. She mentioned that she felt as if she was choking and thought that she would die due to suffocation.
Multiple videos on social media also show people chanting “go down” and “push forward.”
In an interview with MBC, a worker from an Itaewon club said that he also heard people shouting at each other to push others forward.
Despite speculations about the push being the main reason behind the crowd crush, authorities are yet to announce the official cause of the Itaewon Halloween disaster.
At the time of writing this article, the death toll stood at 154. Of the deceased, 26 were identified as foreign nationals. Will Ripley, Senior International Correspondent at CNN, reported that authorities have received nearly 3,580 missing person reports.