Should more safety measures have been taken in South Korea during Halloween?

Alina Duran , Staff Writer

On an early Sunday morning of October 30th, South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-Yeol declared a national mourning after a Halloween celebration on Saturday the 29th leftover 156 residents dead and over 147 injured in Itaewon, 19 of them being of foreign nationalities. The president announced the mourning period for the victims will go from Sunday to November 6th. During the peak of the pandemic, narrow alleyways were closed down in the interest of social distancing. This past weekend marked the first in three years that the mask mandate was lifted and alleyways were cleared. Authorities had estimated that a hundred thousand people would gather in the light of Halloween celebrations. Ever since the unpopular President Yoon Suk-Yeol took office, he has lifted many Covid restrictions, focused on his name-branding, and deflected criticism from the public. This preventable accident was the last straw for many South Koreans, which sparked outrage. https://www.indiatvnews.comKelly Kasulis Cho, a reporter and editor for Washington Post in Seoul made a tweet regarding this event stating, “I could feel the mix of anger and sadness in a note I saw at a memorial in Itaewon yesterday. It said, ‘I hope you go to heaven. In the next life, don’t be born in a country like this”. Other people online argue claiming, “ I disagree. South Korea is a good country to live in”. They then add, “ If the Ministry of Interior sucks, it doesn’t mean that the whole nation should be blamed”.

Upon reading of these events and reading stories of other survivors,  I have grown to feel worried that situations such as these, and an important question comes to mind that other people have also passed by, “Could better safety measures have been taken since authorities knew how many people would be going?” Sergeant, Kim Baek-Gyeom who was at the scene at the time everything was going on was interviewed on behalf of saying his deepest apologies to the bereaved families, recalls, “If I made a judgment a little bit faster, if I thought a different, better measure, I would have saved more people”. He said already feeling guilty. “What if I [went back] and brought the megaphone…I would have saved at least one more person,” he says, with a heavy sense of guilt. Sergeant Kim initially disapproved of the interview in worry that he would be viewed as a “hero of some sort”.

Regarding the safety measures that were taken, I believe more action could have been taken. Perhaps more authorities could have been on-site to prevent any accidents, or given how narrow the alleyways were, security could have let only a limited number of people enter at a time. In the future, I feel as though more safety precautions will be taken, maybe the bars or restaurants will still be open but people won’t be allowed to stay around the alleys. Or maybe the people living around the area will take action and not go to a big event in a small area knowing there will be many others. Nobody could have predicted an accident like this to happen, and I think there is no one to blame, though I am coming only from an outsider’s perspective.