Home » South Korean residents hold vigils and demand President’s resignation

South Korean residents hold vigils and demand President’s resignation


Thousands of grief-stricken South Korean residents have taken to the streets of Seoul to hold candlelight vigils and demand retribution for the 156 people who died in a crowd crush on Halloween.

On October 29, roughly 100,000 people gathered in Seoul's night club district of Itaewon to celebrate the first Halloween event in three years but as crowds packed in, young attendees were crushed and struggled to breathe.

Those attending vigils in the heart of Seoul commemorated the tragedy - which injured another 196 people - with the nation's grieving flowers, white chrysanthemums and candles.

However, below the mourning an anger simmered for the government officials perceived to have failed the young people who were killed that night.

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In the biggest tragedy in South Korea in nearly a decade, at least seven vigil-protests were held across Seoul on Saturday and thousands of young attendees called for President Yoon Suk-yeol to step down.

“Step down, Yoon Suk-yeol's government! Step down, Yoon Suk-yeol's government!" the crowd chanted with candles and placards in their hands.

President Yoon declared a national week of mourning and vowed to improve crowd control measures following the tragedy, after being criticised for not providing a larger police presence.

South Korean police have launched an investigation into how the incident occurred, interviewing witnesses and reviewing footage.

But earlier on Saturday in Itaewon, crowds gathered from youth political groups at the site of the incident and carried poignant messages to the president that said: “Stepping down is an expression of condolence”.

There is a collective anger from the country’s youth that the government needs to take more responsibility for young lives lost and for being underprepared for the event.

South Koreas are grappling with the imagery of young people being wheeled out on stretchers and the videos which emerged on social media of party goers panicking at the growing numbers, which alerted authorities to the disaster.

Both at the protests and vigils, the number 6:34 is seen on placards which is a reference to the first emergency call made to the police on the night of the incident.

Police blocked off two lanes to accommodate the thousands of mourners standing near City Hall, with candles flickering warm light across the faces of those standing together to remember the lives lost.

The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures HQ said 26 foreign nationals from 14 countries – including Australia, the US, France, Vietnam, Norway and Sri Lanka – died in the stampede.

Australian Grace Rached, 23, was among the dead while her friend Justina Cho is believed to still be in ICU and a third Australian with the girls remains in hospital.

Mr Han said his government was “really sorry” for what happened to the young Australians and wished them and their families the best.


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