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A witness recalls the heartbreaking moment of the influx of crowds in Seoul


SEOUL, South Korea — As he watched a dozen or more elated unconscious revelers from a narrow alley filled with young people dressed as movie characters, an overwhelmed Ken Fallas couldn’t fathom what was going on.

Fallas, a Costa Rican architect who has worked in Seoul for eight years, said Saturday’s Halloween festivities in the Itaewon nightlife district were a long-awaited opportunity to hang out with other expats after years of related restrictions. to COVID-19.

Instead, the 32-year-old became a first-hand witness to one of South Korea’s most horrific disasters.

The smartphone video that Fallas took following the deadly influx of crowds shows groups of Halloween revelers executing their oblivious peers, one after another, from an alley near the Hamilton Hotel, past crowds of people dressed in capes and cloaks Miyazaki movie costumes. Some people are seen administering CPR to injured people on the sidewalk while others scream for help above deafening dance music.

Fallas said police and rescue workers were constantly pleading with people to intervene if they knew how to perform CPR, as they were overwhelmed by the large number of injured people lying in the street.

“I saw a lot of (young) people laughing, but I don’t think they were (really) laughing because, you know, what’s funny? said Fallas. “They were laughing because they were too scared. Because being in front of such a thing is not easy. Not everyone knows how to deal with this.

Fallas said he and his friends were trapped among the huge crowd of people heading down the aisle when officers began breaking lines from behind to approach the injured. He said people close to his group initially did not know what was going on.

“We were unable to back down. The music was loud. Nobody knew what was going on. People were still celebrating with the urgency that was happening in front of us,” he said. “We were like, ‘What happens from here, where can we go?’ There was no way out.”

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