UAE: Korean embassy to fly flags at half-mast, staff to wear black ribbons to mourn Seoul stampede victims

Dubai expats express devastation, shock at Itaewon crowd surge that killed over 150 people on Saturday


Nasreen Abdulla

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Top Stories

Published: Mon 31 Oct 2022, 2:30 PM

The Korean embassy in the UAE will hoist its flags at half-mast till November 5, and officials will wear black ribbons to honour and mourn the victims of the Seoul stampede that killed over 150 people.

This comes after South Korea's President Yoon Suk-Yeol declared a period of national mourning on Sunday, promising that the government would pay for the medical care of those injured and the funerals of those who died.

According to international media reports, the death toll has climbed to 154, and the number of people injured has been pegged at 149, out of which 33 of them are critically wounded. Citizens from at least two dozen countries were among the dead.

The crowd surge and crush happened in the capital's popular Itaewon district, where local reports said as many as 100,000 people- mostly in their teens and 20s- had gone to celebrate Halloween, clogging the area's narrow alleyways and winding streets. According to eyewitnesses, the tragedy occurred when revellers entered one particularly narrow and sloping alley, triggering panic and chaos.

Videos circulating on social media show people lying on the streets while others desperately try to perform emergency CPR on them. Other videos show a crowded but peaceful street which suddenly turned chaotic as people start pushing each other and screaming.

Dubai residents spoke about their heartbreak and shock at the worst disaster in South Korea since the 2014 Sewol ferry sinking.

"I am still in disbelief," said Julnar Hilly grew up in South Korea. "I got the headlines while I was in bed and just couldn't go back to sleep. Itaewon is usually a very crowded place, and their nightlife is quite busy. But this incident is just shocking. I think people were just relieved to have the Covid restrictions eased and were looking to celebrate it. It is just so unfortunate that it had to end this way. I have been in touch with my friends and family in Korea. They are still processing what has happened."

Itaewon has been designated a disaster zone, and on Monday, President Yoon Suk-Yeol visited a memorial altar near the Seoul city hall to pay respects to victims. Schools, kindergartens and companies around the country scrapped planned Halloween events, while several high-profile events and government briefings were cancelled.

Korean national Jiyoon Cho, who lives in Dubai, said she was devastated by the incident, which happened in a place she loved visiting.

"I have been to Itaewon many times," she said. "It is famous for international visitors and expats living in Seoul. I feel really sad and sorry for the young people, and I hope the government will set up reinforced safety regulations for the future. I pray for victims to rest in peace."


More news from