Following the tragic news of the crowd surge in Itaewon—killing 154 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.
It is estimated that over 100,000 people traveled to Itaewon, a district known for its nightlife, to celebrate Halloween at the first “no masks required” event held in three years after previous restrictions were in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A YouTuber, Seon Yeo Jung, had been taking footage and photos in anticipation of making a vlog about the Halloween festivities and shared her witness account of the event,
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
New footage shared in Korean online community boards from the night of the tragedy allegedly shows the moment the crowd surge began.
In the footage, the crowd is initially seen moving in both directions and keeping to the right side in the direction they were walking, corroborating Seon Yeo Jung’s recollection of the crowd attempting to maintain order before the surge.
Moments later, a push from the top of the alleyway rapidly moves the crowd several feet downhill as a mixture of yelling and laughing can be heard in the initial confusion.
The crowd settles for a moment before being pushed forward again from the top of the alleyway. People could be heard yelling, “go back, go back!” in an attempt to alert the crowd entering the alley.
People began to understand the gravity of the situation as many sought to step out of the crowd, and some began to hold onto stationary objects in order to not be pushed.
From that point, the surge continues downhill, assumed to have led to the horrific tragedy.
The full video is below:
Additional coverage of the devastating Itaewon Halloween Emergency: