Following the tragic news of the crowd surge in Itaewon—killing 151 people who visited the area to celebrate Halloween, multiple witnesses and survivors from the scene have pointed out a single “cause” of the incident: Pushing.
While the Yongsan Fire Station and the Yongsan Police Department have mentioned in press briefings that the investigations are still ongoing to confirm the main cause of the incident, online accounts from some of the witnesses and survivors who were at the scene are now suggesting that there were “people pushing on purpose,” leading to the mass casualty.
In a series of Instagram stories, YouTuber Seon Yeo Jung recalled the night of the incident. Explaining how she had been amid the crowd trying to move down the alley where the surge took place, Seon wrote that it wasn’t easy to move—though, at first, “There was some order with people following the right-hand traffic.”
I have this footage because at the time, I was shooting a vlog. This was when there was some order with people following the right-hand traffic. Things hadn’t escalated yet, but it was still extremely difficult for me to even take a step forward.
— Seon Yeo Jung
According to Seon, it became chaotic in the blink of an eye, especially as people at the top of the alley started shouting and pushing.
Behind me, people were shouting things like ‘Push! We’re stronger! We can win this, haha!’ and began pushing. Some of us were trying to get the crowd to follow the right-hand traffic again, but it was no use. I was honestly being pushed and shoved around against my will.
Then, all of a sudden, chaos ensued and everyone started pushing back and forth aggressively—like a tug of war. It didn’t take too long before I started feeling the sheer force of the people pushing. My vision started fading.
My friend, who was there with me, is stronger than I am. So they held on to me and helped me withstand the force. Had I not been with my friend, I would’ve absolutely fallen.
— Seon Yeo Jung
A Twitter user @jkaesthet1c also recalled her experience being trapped in the alley.
도미노마냥 소리지르면서 쓰러짐 그 와중에 테라스에서 웃으면서 영상 찍는 사람도 있고 맨 위는 밑에가 쓰러진걸 모르는지 계속 밈 그래서 난 맨 밑은 아니고 와이키키? 뭐 아무튼 그런 술집 앞에서( 위에서 아래 내려가는 골목 맨 위) 깔림 친구는 신발 벗겨지고 지갑 폰 잃어버리고 난 가방이랑
— 모믿걸 (@jkaesthet1c) October 29, 2022
I almost died today. There was a crowd surge. I can explain what happened because I was there getting crushed, too. People at the top of the steep club alley in Itaewon started pushing. Everyone was trying to keep a right-hand traffic at first. But with time, everyone was basically facing each other, trying to move in every direction. When people at the top started pushing, people at the bottom started falling like dominos.
Some people, who were out by the patios of the buildings nearby, were taking videos and laughing. It seemed like people at the top didn’t realize people at the bottom had fallen. They kept pushing. I wasn’t at the very bottom—I as stuck in front of some bar called Waikiki or whatever (closer to the top of the alley heading down).
@jkaesthet1c, who had gotten “Stuck in front of some bar called Waikiki,” explained the crowd at the top of the alley didn’t seem to understand that the crowd at the bottom of the alley was getting crushed and kept pushing—worsening the situation.
In interviews with the Korean press that showed up at the scene to cover the incident, more witnesses and survivors made claims that there was “Aggressive pushing.”
A 31-year-old survivor, Jeon, told Chosun that they were “Walking along the alley behind Hamilton Hotel when someone pushed [them] out of the blue.” According to Jeon’s understanding of what happened, people ended up getting crushed while attempting to withstand the force of the push.
Another survivor, 20-year-old Choi, also told Chosun that “People could be heard chanting ‘One! Two!’ while pushing.” Choi stated that, with all other roads out of the area also packed with the crowd, there was no room—and people stayed “piled on top of each other” for a while.
Following the multiple reports on the chilling accounts from the witnesses and survivors, Koreans have taken to social media platforms and online communities to express outrage toward the crowd that initiated the pushing. Some are demanding that these “instigators” be identified via footage from the surveillance cameras surrounding the area and held responsible for the “mass murder.”
- “Some of the people interviewed on the news also said they heard people go ‘Push! Push!’ too.”
- “I want the people who instigated the pushing to get caught and be held responsible.”
- “This warrants an arrest. This is terrifying.”
- “Wouldn’t there be footage from the surveillance cameras around the area? I don’t think it’ll be difficult to find the instigators if, indeed, a group initiated the pushing.”
- “The instigators should be held responsible for involuntary manslaughter, if they can be tracked down. They may not have set out on killing people, but they pushed knowing well that people could die. I mean, it is absolute common sense for people to not push others down a slope because it can lead to serious injuries.”
- “I bet the said instigators fled the scene ASAP. But they know in their hearts what they did and what they caused. If only they could rot in jail!”
- “But why? Why would anyone start pushing? Like, seriously?”
Read Koreaboo’s full coverage of the Itaewon incident below.