Seoul Halloween Tragedy Reveals Urgency for Crowd Safety Awareness


Ambulances arriving close to the scene in Seoul, after the crowd surge occurred on October 30, 2022. Photo by Lee jin-man, courtesy of AP News.

Brooke Sharp, Business/Social Media Manager

On the night of October 29th, in Itaewon, a neighboring community in Seoul, South Korea, as many as 100,000 people gathered to partake in Halloween festivities. What began as an exciting night in Seoul´s nightlife scene, gradually spiraled into a panic amongst the packed crowd as the event became overcrowded and dangerously congested. The crowd surge resulted in the deaths of over 150 partygoers and more than 100 injured. With November also marking the first anniversary of the tragedy at the Astroworld festival in Houston, it’s more important than ever to become familiar with how to stay safe when in a crowded event.


First, knowing how you can get stuck in a crowd is crucial to know how to get out of a crowd before it gets too dangerous. Close-gathered crowds move similarly to an ocean where the movements are synchronous and are difficult to control once you are caught in the wave. If someone falls, a domino effect occurs and people can pile on top of each other. As an instance where this has occurred, several attendees of Travis Scott´s Astroworld festival last year, collapsed as a result of people being so close together that they did not have room to breathe. As a general rule of thumb, if a personal belonging of yours falls on the floor, it is best to leave it on the ground because an unpredictable crowd could cause a domino effect to ensue. If you do fall, it is recommended by crowd safety expert, Paul Wertheimer, to ¨lie on your left side to protect your heart and lungs.¨ 


It is always a good safety precaution to be aware of your surroundings and where exits are located in the venue you are in. Per the CDC, ¨if you happen to be in the middle or at the front of a crowd surge, remain on your feet and try to move diagonally to move at the edge of the crowd.¨ Trusting your gut and following your instincts is often a lifesaving tool that people underestimate — if you feel like your personal space is being overcrowded, then it could be a sign that the crowd is becoming too dense and that the event is becoming unsafe. When these ¨red flags¨ arise it’s best to go further back in the crowd where there is more space to move your body in the case of an emergency.


As more people return to normalcy and to attending events, remaining aware of the dangers of crowds is crucial to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again. Though crowd crushes are extremely rare, crowds of all kinds can become dangerous, and having this knowledge could be life-saving.