Seoul Halloween crowd crush: Senior officers released from blame

The report on Seoul's Itaewon Halloween crowd crush that took place on October 29, 2022, has finally been released by the South Korean government which has released the senior officers from the blame of being responsible for the crush. Instead, the government has blamed the local municipal and emergency service officials for improper planning for an event of such caliber which led to the crush. The report also highlighted the failure of local authorities to provide credible emergency services which could have lowered the death count and fatal injuries to the people who suffered during this crush. However, there is a strong criticism going on with the report where many are saying that the government is shifting the blame onto local authorities to protect the higher senior authorities. 

Seoul's Itaewon Halloween crowd crush is one of the most devastating incidents of 2022, which led to the deaths of 159 people. On the night of October 29, people gathered in the Itaewon neighborhood of Seoul to celebrate the festivities of Halloween. The town of Itaewon is famous in Seoul for its night entertainment, because of which it is considered the hub of Halloween celebrations. That evening, over 100,000 people gathered at Itaewon to celebrate the Halloween festivities for which Itaewon is known. This was the first time when the South Korean government had allowed people to gather without the necessity of following COVID-19 measures such as wearing masks or following social distancing. This is why there was such a huge crowd gathered at the venue for Halloween celebrations. Days before the incident, Itaewon police had requested the higher authorities for additional backup while stating the possibility of a crush. During that event, the crowd slowly started increasing which was expected because of Halloween celebrations. But as the few hours passed, the crowd levels became uncontrollable, which made reaching for emergency help almost impossible. Local police reported that during the late evening, they received hundreds of calls for help but due to such a huge crowd, it was impossible for them to reach the help seekers. By 10 pm, the crowd crush had increased beyond the control of the authorities who were outnumbered to handle the situation. According to the local reports, there were just 137 officers on duty, significantly low in comparison to the 100,000 people who attended the event. Thus failure in providing emergency care to the people who suffered from injuries during this crush led to the deaths of 159 people. 

Based on the disaster report, the government has arrested several officers for their negligence during the crush. According to the local media, so far, six people have been arrested which include the former police chief and Mayor of the Yongsan district. Other than these local officials, the investigating party has also ordered arresting other officials who may have also neglected the sheer size and necessary measures for the security of such a huge crowd. This also includes the police chief of Seoul. Son Je-hwan, the director of the special police division, said that it was difficult for him and his division to admit that the city officials, the national police, and the interior ministry failed to do their jobs.