According to reports, police are now looking into allegations that a group of 5-6 men started the pushing that led to a tragic stampede killing 154 people and injuring 132 more.
On October 31, the police stated they had created a task force of 475 officers to investigate the Itaewon tragedy.
According to the police, they are currently examining CCTV footage from a camera located in the back of the Hamilton Hotel, overlooking the alleyway where the tragedy took place.
The police are said to be expediting efforts to uncover the cause of the incident. Under the “Digital Evidence Immediate Review” policy, rather than wait for a review, footage can be immediately examined for evidence. It is said that the police are carefully reviewing testimony from witnesses to piece together how this tragedy happened.
This is amid allegations that there were people intentionally pushing.
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.”
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.
There are also several allegations detailing who started the pushing. According to reports, eyewitnesses claim that a group of 5-6 men, which also included foreigners, were among those who instigated the pushing. Many are also calling for the investigation into one man in particular, who wore bunny ears.
A man in bunny ears told us to push.
I saw him grinning while drunk and pushing with all his strength before leaving.
According to Um Gun Woong, a professor teaching Police & Fire Administration at U1 University, if the testimonies are true, the man in the bunny ears will be subject to prosecution for crimes up to murder.
If someone pushed another with the intention to harm, there are several crimes he can be charged with. Assault, murder and manslaughter are all on the table.
— Um Gun Woong
The professor then stated that it would be difficult, however, to place the blame on one person for the entire event.