Itaewon crush: Five friends went out for Halloween; only two cam

By Jean Mackenzie, Won Jung Bae and Hosu Lee

Seoul’s funeral homes are now filled with the bodies of young people and their heartbroken parents. At the end of a long corridor, Mr Sim and his wife sit crumpled on a small sofa, unable to lift their heads.

Inside one of the rooms is the frame of their son, 28-year-vintage James Sim. In the room round the corner is James’ buddy Yoon. And in a funeral domestic across the town lies James’ girlfriend.

They had long gone to Itaewon collectively on Saturday night time with two different buddies to have fun Halloween. James had organised the evening. “He became continually the organiser, as he loved nights out together with his friends,” his mom says.

James become considered one of 155 folks that died inside the crowd weigh down as a narrow bar-lined alleyway became dangerously overcrowded. The first sign some thing had gone incorrect got here when his dad and mom – like many others – wakened to discover their son’s mattress empty. James’ father got his buddies to call him. The police replied.

As they got caught in the deadly weigh down,  of the pals managed to claw their way thru the group and up onto some railings at the brink of the alleyway. James, his female friend, and Yoon couldn’t make it out.

James loved to exercise, and spent maximum of his spare time within the gym, lifting weights to bulk up, his mother says. She can not understand how this did now not store him.

James’ relationship become getting severe, his father says. He and his girlfriend would have married quickly – if they had survived. He labored as a plumber, a activity he did diligently, however his passions have been snowboarding and surfing. His mother’s eyes crease with a flicker of joy as she recounts what he cherished to do, but his father’s near and tears fall.

“James became the first-class older brother,” he recollects. “How is my younger son going to manage without him?”

In the room, next to his coffin, sit half a dozen of his vintage schoolfriends. Park Ju-sung has regarded him the longest, on account that they were eight.

“I was such a shy infant,” Ju-sung says, “James became my handiest pal. He invited me to everything and advocated me to soak up taekwondo with him. He helped me grow to be more outgoing.”

James’ pal Yoon, whose coffin is inside the subsequent room, was grown-up past his 28 years and at ease in his own agency. He cherished exploring. In the evenings, he used to go to bars alone and strive to talk to foreigners so he should research overseas languages, says Jung-su, who says he fashionable his self assurance.

More than half the victims had been in their 20s and the trauma is being felt throughout this era. This is the second one disaster they have got lived via. In 2014, 250 excessive college college students died when a ferry sank off the southwest coast of the country. The excessive school students might had been in their 20s now.

At a big public altar, set up inside the centre of Seoul, humans amassed to mourn. Nineteen-12 months-antique Kim Dae-hui laid a single white chrysanthemum, Korea’s flower of mourning, in tribute to his pal Raghu Jordagan, who was 21.

He had moved to South Korea from Malaysia in January 2021. The pair had turn out to be pals after Raghu approached him on the road to compliment his style. He worked in production to earn cash for his family returned home, but he was creative at heart and dreamed of being a style fashion designer, said Dae-hui.

They would grasp out and listen to hip hop tune and swap style pointers. They have been teaching every other their languages. “Raghu become greater affected person than me, he never were given annoyed,” Dae-hi remembered, eliminating his glasses to permit his face to sink into his arms.

Raghu had video-referred to as him from the alley as the overwhelm started. He become next to a younger girl who was struggling to respire. They stayed at the telephone as Raghu tried to determine out how to break out. Then the woman’s hand went bloodless and Raghu hung up. This become the last Dae-hui heard from him.

The next morning, he appeared thru the movies being shared on social media and noticed the face of his pal within the crowd, pale and distressed. He convinced himself it wasn’t Rahgu, just someone comparable looking. Then the police referred to as. It regarded he had been driven and trampled on, they said.

Learning the names and the stories of the dead is making this tragedy even tougher for human beings here to recognize. They want solutions, putting authorities below growing stress to set up exactly what went wrong and who is responsible.

James’ mother and father aren’t prepared in charge. “Our son become pushed, and he died. It turned into an twist of fate. We have now not idea who become accountable. We can’t suppose. All we will do is cry.”

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