Korea has its own unique culture, displayed and celebrated through its festivals. From their own cultural festivals like Chuseok to Western/English festivals like Christmas, Koreans have their own flair when it comes to celebrating these festive days.
But what truly stands out in the terms of festivities is Halloween. Colorful costumes, parties, the makeup, oh my, the makeup. The way subtle Korean makeup transforms into subtly LOUD makeup, the people celebrating Halloween take to the streets of Korea and dazzle them.
The entirety of Korea celebrates it, But the real deal is in Itaewon. The city is known to have one of the world’s biggest Halloween celebrations. People from all around the world come to Itaewon to celebrate Halloween with the perfect festivities it deserves. It is usually one of the highlights of people’s lives, but this year, people experienced real horror.
Itaewon, in Seoul, holds the biggest Halloween parade every year and this year was the same. Halloween enthusiasts came from different parts of the world came to Itaewon on 29th October to party. While security and control of the crowds are always maintained during the festival, things went awry when the crowds became impossible to maintain. Hence, a stampede ensued which eventually became the cause of 154 lives being lost.
People who survived the tragedy recounted how the incident unfolded. Nuhyil Ahammed, an IT professional from India who had been residing in Korea, had been attending the party for the last five years. He explained how from 5 pm, the streets were crowded more than usual and expressed the worry they felt when they imagined the place and crowd at seven or eight in the evening.
By this time, people were updating their social statuses from “ feeling spooky :p” to “scared of the crowd”
This fear quickly turned into panic and a massive stampede ensued. Many, many people lost their lives.
When things turned desperate, even common people jumped in to help, one of them being Ahammed. They performed CPR along with the paramedics and it was then the citizens saw fellow citizens take their last breath, right there in their hands.
The Lives Lost
Among the people who died, there were not only Korean citizens but also foreign visitors who came in to take part in the festival. Most of the victims were in their 20s and there were more women among the dead than men. Officials say there are 26 foreign nationals among the deceased.
Six students who were at school in Seoul were killed, as well as three teachers and three members of the South Korean armed forces, the country’s Education and Defence ministries said.
This tragedy crushed more than 26 people from 14 countries. So far, China, Iran, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Japan, Australia, Norway, and France have all confirmed deaths of their nationals in the incident that took place in the popular Seoul nightclub district of Itaewon Saturday night, reported CNN.
Lee Ji Han, the real hero
One of the people who died in the stampede was Lee Ji Han, a 24-year-old popular actor and k-pop idol from “Produce 101”. While he didn’t win, he pivoted his career to acting and starred in the high school drama series “Today Was Another Nam Hyun Day.” He was set to star in a drama with “My ID is Gangnam Beauty” star Im Soo Hyang. She also penned a heartfelt letter expressing her grief over her fellow star, Ji Han’s death.
“Ji Han, you have to be happy in a better place.
Yesterday, I was supposed to film the whole day with you, but after hearing the news, we all gathered at your wake. No one could say anything for a long time, and we just sat in a daze. I felt so cold, sad, and miserable after you were taken away so soon as you were just starting because I knew so well how hard you worked and how you wanted to do a good job..And your parents held my hands and told me how you went home and happily bragged to them that I praised you for doing a good job, and I think I cried for a long while because I was sorry that I didn’t take care of you more and that it was a shame that I didn’t say one more nice thing or words of encouragement.
I am so hurt to let my colleague go first. The team and I will all work even harder for your share while thinking of you so that you can be proud of that place, and I hope you will be at peace now.”
To all those who became stars through this Itaewon tragedy, may you all rest in peace.”Im Soo Hyang on her Instagram.
It was then reported that Lee Ji Han came out to safety but saw a little girl stuck in the stampede and rushed in to save her. While the parents of the little girl too confirmed that he did save the child, but unfortunately, couldn’t save himself. Not just Korea, but people around the whole world deem him a real-life hero who prioritized saving another life over his own and laid it down to save a small girl. (We too are writing this with tears in our eyes).
We hope that not only Ji Han, but every soul that was lost in this tragedy, would reach their rightful place in heaven and finally, rest in peace. And may the families be given the strength to handle the grief of losing their loved ones in this unfortunate incident.