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Itaewon Halloween Tragedy: A UNG Student Shares Her Experience


On Oct. 29, in the neighborhood of Itaewon in Seoul, South Korea, Halloween celebrations turned into tragedy as 157 young people were killed in a crowd crush.

Yunseo Kweon, a biology major from University of Seoul, is studying abroad at the UNG Dahlonega campus. When she asked her mother about how the country is dealing, she says, “The country’s mood is very sad right now.” Anything related to entertainment, such as movies, music and social media is very somber.

The South Korean police force took “heavy responsibility” for this tragedy according to euronews. Many officials have expressed responsibility and offer their condolences to the victims of the crowd crush.

University of North Georgia student Elizabeth Hoyer, a junior psychology major, was in the Itaewon neighborhood before it happened. Hoyer is studying at Korea University for her study abroad program in South Korea. She has been there since August. After the night the crowd crush happened, the country went into a week of mourning where all public events were put on hold to pay respect to those killed.

Hoyer shared her experience of what happened that night.

What drew you to Itaewon for the Halloween celebrations?

Even before coming to Korea, I always heard that Itaewon is the place to go for Halloween. I heard that everyone dresses up and I thought that would be fun. My friends and I thought it would be a good way to see the Halloween culture here.

Since this is the first major event after COVID-19 do you think the government could have been more prepared for this?

Yes, I do. They could have expected bigger crowds and could have prepared better.

Before the crowd crush happened do you think there were warnings of the crowds getting to be too much or too dangerous?

Yes. My friends and I got there an hour or two before the incident. There were lines to leave the subway and when we got out to the street, we felt a bit overwhelmed with the amount of people. Even on the restaurant street, there were so many people.

Do you think the crowds were more than what people anticipated this year?

I think so. When we got there, there were some police already there to try to help manage the crowds. But no one expected that many people to be there, including my friends and I.

Why did you leave the area?

While we were eating dinner, we heard about the incident from our friends who saw it on social media, and we got public safety announcements about the area. When we got to the main street and saw the aftermath of the incident and all the ambulances, we decided to just walk down the street until we got away from the big crowd and look up directions later.

What do you think could have prevented this tragedy?

Perhaps closing down the public roads from cars and increasing police presence on the main road and back roads as well.

What are the reactions to this event from the South Korean people?

The reactions from the South Korean people were very heartbreaking. Everyone was saddened by this tragedy, and everyone was very respectful to the victims and their families. Everyone came together to mourn them.

The country is coming out of a week of mourning. What was that like?

It was a bit somber. Most major public events were canceled, and there were many memorial services. My friends and I returned to Itaewon to the memorial there to pay respects to all the victims who lost their lives.

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About the Contributor
Ashley Brehm
Ashley Brehm, Staff Editor
Hey y'all, I'm Ashley! My major is Communications with a focus in journalism. I really enjoy writing for Vanguard because I like to feel like I'm a part of the community and writing about issues pertaining to students is super interesting. My home campus is in Dahlonega, but I also take classes in Gainesville.
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Itaewon Halloween Tragedy: A UNG Student Shares Her Experience