Korean entertainment industry in mourning after Itaewon crowd crush tragedy

Several events and releases have been cancelled or postponed as South Korea enters a period of national mourning

South Korea has entered a period of mourning for the victims of Saturday’s crowd crush in the Itaewon district of Seoul.

On the night of October 29, over 100,000 partygoers reportedly gathered at the popular nightlife district of Itaewon to attend the district’s annual Halloween festivities. According to Yonhap News Agency, a surge occurred in a narrow alleyway later that night, leaving many in the crowd unable to move or breathe in what is known as a crowd crush.

As of October 31, the incident has claimed the lives of 154 people and injured 149 others, per Reuters. Many of the victims were young people in their twenties. At least two dozen victims were foreign nationals, as Itaewon is a well-known nightlife district among foreigners and tourists in Seoul.

South Korean actor and former Produce 101 contestant Lee Ji-han was one of those who died in the crowd crush, his agencies 935 Entertainment and 9ato Entertainment confirmed on October 30. Lee was 24 years old.

The South Korean government has declared a period of national mourning until midnight of November 5, as announced by Prime Minister Han Duck-soo on October 30, per The Korea Herald. During the national mourning period, all non-essential public events have been cancelled or postponed. The country’s entertainment industry has accordingly called off events and planned releases out of respect for the deceased.

Several South Korean artists and celebrities have also taken to social media to express their condolences to the families and loved ones of those affected by the tragic incident. “We pray for the well-being of the deceased, and we also offer our condolences to the bereaved families and acquaintances who have lost loved ones,” tweeted boyband ENHYPEN.

Meanwhile, ’Gangnam Style’ singer and P Nation CEO Psy shared a message on Instagram, writing: “Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who have been affected by the tragic accident in Itaewon.”

psy itaewon crush
Instagram story posted on October 30 by Psy. Credits: @42psy42 on Instagram.

Tottenham Hotspurs football player Son Heung-min took to Instagram to share his grief after playing a Premier League game, which took place as the tragedy in Itaewon unfolded. “I am heartbroken to be reading this news… I want you to all know I am thinking of you and sending all of my strength from here,” he wrote.

K-pop groups ATEEZ and Dreamcatcher, who held concerts on October 30, also paid their respects during their shows with a moment of silence accompanied by condolence messages. The latter group also omitted the word ‘Halloween’ from the name of their concert, per Yonhap News Agency. Fans who attended the ATEEZ concert also reported that the members wore black ribbons in remembrance of the victims throughout their show.

As South Korea mourns the tragedy, the music industry has cancelled and postponed several upcoming events and releases. The Busan One Asia Festival and SM Entertainment’s annual Halloween party, both originally set for October 30, have been cancelled. The Lotte World amusement park has also cancelled its upcoming Halloween celebrations.

Girl group TWICE announced today (October 31) that their seventh anniversary Halloween-themed fanmeeting scheduled for November 5 has been cancelled. “We have seriously considered changing the concept, but due to time constraint and various aspects we have decided to officially cancel the event,” wrote JYP Entertainment, noting that “both artists and executives are deeply saddened by the tragic accident”.

Several K-pop acts, including APINK’s Eunji, EXO’s Chen and DRIPPIN have postponed their releases originally planned for this week. New release dates will be announced by their respective agencies at a later time. Artists B.I and Xdinary Heroes have also temporarily suspended promotional rollouts for their forthcoming releases.

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