According to news reports, South Korean police have begun investigating the cause of the Itaewon crowd surge—including the online allegations about a “Man In Bunny Ears” starting the aggressive pushing that eventually led to the incident.
Meanwhile, Korean netizens have combed available online footage to find the person who fits the description of the alleged instigator. Soon, a Korean man was pinned as the alleged instigator—receiving massive hate and criticism on the internet. When the allegations about the “Man In Bunny Ears” heightened, the man responded by denying the accusations.
Rumors stemming from online communities alleged that a man wearing bunny ears—and his friends—started pushing people, causing the crowd surge.
Wow… My hands were shaking when I got home, and my parents greeted me, their voices shaking. This scene keeps playing over in my head, so I’m writing it here… I swear, the man in his late 20s, whose hair was parted and permed and wearing a bunny ear hairband, if I ever see you, I swear…
More allegations followed from people—including a popular YouTuber—claiming they had seen this “Man In Bunny Ears” instigating the crowd pushing.
As the picture went viral, the man in the picture soon spoke out. In an Instagram post, the man wrote that although he fits the description, he is not the person they were looking for. According to the man, he did visit Itaewon with a friend on October 29, but due to the large crowds, he left before the incident took place.
I am writing this in case my acquaintances and people around me see this. I found out about this situation later because I have my phone notifications turned off. As you can see, my friend and I are the targets of a witch hunt. Although I wore a bunny ear headband on the night, when the incident occurred, my friend and I had already left Itaewon. I have evidence of this.
I am planning to sue for defamation. If you see this picture on the internet, please DM it to me. I know misunderstandings happen, but please stop the witch hunt.
— Man In Picture
According to a news report by Chosun Ilbo, the man then reached out to the news outlet to state his innocence.
Netizens are saying a group of 5-6 people was pushing, but I was with only one friend. Because there were so many people, we left for Hapjeong Station. It is true that we walked past the alleyway where the incident occurred, but we definitely didn’t push anybody. I am innocent. I am going to Itaewon station to collect evidence, such as CCTV footage, proving that I didn’t push anyone.
— Man In Picture
The man also uploaded a receipt of a subway ticket purchase showing that he had indeed left Itaewon at 9:55 PM and that he arrived at Hapjeong station at 10:17 PM.
Korean netizens reacted to the article by criticizing the groundless witch hunt. Many were also empathetic to the innocent man’s plight, stating how stressful this must be for him.
- “You keyboard detectives need to calm down.”
- “We should let the police find the instigator.”
- “Are you guys trying to kill another person? Stop with the witch hunt and let the police do their jobs.”
- “Guys, this isn’t what is important. No one listens and hence this witch hunt. It isn’t important who pushed who because if there were proper safety measures in place, none of this would have happened. Even if there was someone who pushed, it is difficult to say that he is responsible for all of this. Do you think he knew 155 people would die by pushing? I’m not defending him. Just stating the facts. People are saying to hold both the person pushing and the government accountable, but even if people did push, it’s impossible to punish them. The government wants us to be distracted by this, so that they can shield themselves from accountability. I hope we don’t forget that it is the government who should be held accountable.”
- “Netizen investigators? Please, they are losers holed up in their rooms. Please know your place and let the police do their jobs. Why are you guys so impatient?”
- “There is a lot of CCTVs in the area, so let’s just wait.”
According to news reports, the police are casting a wide net in their search for what may have caused the tragedy. The police are investigating CCTV footage from 52 cameras in the area and have spoken with 44 people that were injured in the tragedy. According to reports, the police are looking at all available footage of the incident, including those shared online.
The police are also investigating the allegations regarding the “Man In The Bunny Ears.” According to a news briefing held on October 31, a police representative stated they are cross-referencing witness testimony with footage in their investigations.
We are basing our investigations on witness testimony and analyzing footage to find the truth.
— Police representative