At 9:30 pm on the 28th, the day of Halloween, the back alley of the Hamilton Hotel in Itaewon, Seoul was crowded with people who came out to the streets with their lovers or friends to enjoy the weekend. Unlike last year, when a crowd of close to 100,000 people gathered and 159 lives were taken, the citizens were dispersed to the Hongdae and Gangnam areas, but the Halloween atmosphere of Itaewon, where people dressed up in various makeup and costumes and foreigners mixed together, still remained.
On the afternoon of the 28th, Hankook Ilbo visited Itaewon, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Hongdae, Mapo-gu, etc., and saw crowds of citizens coming out to the streets to celebrate Halloween. However, the crowds were smaller than last year, and the relevant authorities, including the police and local governments, were making all-out efforts to manage safety, and citizens seemed to be enjoying Halloween in a calm atmosphere.
“I came to Itaewon for the first time with my friends this year,” said Lee, 20, wearing a Harry Potter costume. “I came to pay tribute and enjoy Halloween.” Choi Han-byeol (22), who dressed up as a ghost, said, “It was scary that a major disaster occurred a year ago, but I couldn’t just let Halloween go.” Kim Jae-won (23) also said, “I often hang out in Itaewon because it’s close to my house,” and added, “I came out to enjoy the Halloween atmosphere and have a drink.”
The police and Yongsan-gu Office officials deployed at the scene seemed to be on alert in preparation for any unexpected situation. In the middle of the World Food Street, where the disaster occurred last year, a steel fence was installed to manage the flow of citizens so that they could pass on the right, and the road near Itaewon Station restricted vehicle movement to one lane in both directions, ensuring space for crowds to pass.
In the alleys around Itaewon, personnel were stationed at 10m intervals. On this day, the police deployed about 400 people, including the riot squad, to Itaewon alone, and even patrolled the autonomous crime prevention unit to minimize crowding. Yongsan-gu Office officials and volunteer firefighters went on foot patrol, holding safety batons and blowing whistles. A police official said, “We are constantly on alert in preparation for any unexpected situation.”
Citizens also continued to commemorate the victims. Citizens visited the memorial space installed at Exit 1 of Itaewon Station one after another to pray for the souls of the victims. Kim Yu-shin (22), who visited Itaewon with her girlfriend, said, “I came to Itaewon for the first time today to commemorate the incident. I feel like it would have been safer if it had been managed like this a long time ago.” Chloe (32), who is from Australia, said, “I came to Itaewon after traveling to Korea, and I was surprised by the number of police officers,” and emphasized, “An accident like this should never happen again.”
Meanwhile, the area around Hongik University entrance in Mapo-gu, Seoul was crowded with people who came here to avoid the memorial atmosphere in Itaewon. As the restaurants and bars around Club Street were fully booked, there were long lines of people waiting in front of the restaurants. Those먹튀검증 wearing various costumes seemed to be enjoying the Halloween weekend evening while taking pictures. Inside Hongik University Station Station on Seoul Subway Line 2, an announcement was continuously made saying, “The station is very crowded, so please use exits 1 and 9.”
Lee Jin-gwang (29), wearing a Spider-Man costume, said, “I went to Itaewon until last year, but I came to Hongdae this year because there seemed to be no people there. I was at the scene of the disaster at the time, and I visited the incense burner to pay my respects, but enjoying Halloween is different.” He said. Baek Ji-wook (30) said, “It was my first time coming to Hongdae on Halloween. The Itaewon tragedy is unfortunate, but I think wearing a costume is also a way to pay tribute.”
The authorities set Hongdae and Gangnam areas as priority management areas in preparation for crowds of people, and were putting all their efforts into safety management by deploying police. Cha Bomi (32) said, “I feel like I am commemorating the event, but I think enjoying Halloween is another thing,” and added, “I felt safe because the police and firefighters were patrolling with barricades set up.”