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S. Korea Promises Investigation into Deadly Stampede

    S. Korea Promises Investigation into Deadly Stampede
    Updated Nov 02, 2022
    Image credit: AFP/Getty Images [via Independent]

    Facts

    • South Korea's police chief on Tuesday admitted to a "heavy responsibility" for failing to contain the deadly crush killing over 150 in Seoul's Itaewon district during Halloween festivities on Saturday, also noting that police received multiple emergency calls before it occurred.[1]
    • South Korean Pres. Yoon Suk-yeol also acknowledged that crowd management needed to improve, saying such measures are needed "not only on these streets where this massive disaster took place but at other places like stadiums and concert venues where large crowds gather."[2]
    • The Itaewon area is famous for its cosmopolitan atmosphere and is the country's most popular spot for Halloween parties, with Saturday's gathering estimated to be around 100K people, its largest since the pandemic.[3]
    • In the aftermath of the fatal stampede, questions arose surrounding the deployment of 137 officers to patrol the Halloween gathering compared to around 7K sent to another part of the city to monitor protests.[4]
    • The government's admission comes after lines of citizens and politicians gathered in three separate locations on Monday, with two official memorial altars set up in Itaewon and near City Hall.[5]
    • The cause is yet unclear, though some claim deliberate pushing could have been a factor, or possibly a crowd surge through a narrow alley to see a celebrity. Fatalities included 26 foreign nationals.[2]

    Spin

    Establishment-critical narrative

    The government says it couldn't have predicted a deadly surge from overcrowding, but it clearly had the manpower and experience to do more. Beyond deploying more police, the police could've also restricted cars from large pedestrian areas, enforced one-way walking lanes, blocked entries to narrow pathways, and closed Itaewon’s subway station to prevent overcrowding.

    Pro-establishment narrative

    President Yoon Suk Yeol has publicly taken responsibility for the tragedy that affected not only his own citizens but those from around the world. While safety measures should have been in place prior to Halloween, we should acknowledge his significant pledge to not only implement crowd control protocols in the future but to give individualized support to each family of the 26 foreign nationals who died.

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