Gracie Skidmore

The Itaewon district in South Korea’s capital is publicly shown as a place of fun, freedom and openness. But Itaewons has slim streets and few access points that caused a lethal problem for the partygoers on Halloween night.
The evening of October 31 began with optimism. South Korea was celebrating Halloween almost free of the COVID-19 restrictions that had put most people’s celebrations on hold in recent years. Like anyone whose plans have been canceled for almost 2 years, they were ready to regain the lost time.
Authorities estimated that there were nearly 100,000 people on the single street. The street dubbed “World Food Street ” by tourism officials is a street full of alleyways, night clubs, bars, and many restaurants that reflect Itaewon heritage. Three narrow streets and alleyways leading to the metro station were crammed with people. The alleyway was 42 meters long and only 7 meters wide, but in the most narrow part 3.6 meters wide. The hallways in our school are 4 meters wide, there’s only 3.3 feet in one meter.
As police investigate the situation, it has become clear distressed callers reported the crowds. Leaving the police with nearly four hours of warnings that went mostly unnoticed or unaccessed. Police received at least 11 calls before people got crushed in the alleyways. The final call before the incidents was at 10:11 p.m. The crushing started at 10:27 p.m. The transcript of the call was:
“(People) are going to get crushed to death, everyone’s going crazy,” an unidentified caller says. The transcript notes that there were screams heard over the phone.
Linda, a 20-year-old exchange student from Latvia, arrived at the streets by 10 p.m by the metro station. Linda said she initially thought there was a fight going on, as the club workers were filming the crowd.
“I felt panic starting to fill the air. Pushing started, we were pushed backwards”, said Linda.
Rather than a sudden rush or stampede the crowd’s density increased making movement of the crowd impossible. Survivors say it was hard to breathe. People scaled the walls trying to get out, others shouted and cried.
“I’m not a tall person, I was literally just trapped by people on my back and front” says a Korean student, “people were punching me in every direction and I could not breathe well.”
Linda’s view was right in the middle of the course. She and her friends were holding onto the wall to get a higher ground away from the crowd pushing.
81,573 people disembarked from the metro station, up 31,878 from the year before. We have nearly 900 students going through our hallways. There were 12 people per square meter. The outcome of the night took 156 people’s lives and left even more in hospitals.