South Korean actor Yoon Hong-bin shares account of Itaewon crowd crush

The tragedy, which has claimed the lines of over 150 people, “could have been prevented,” Yoon wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post

South Korean actor Yoon Hong-bin has shared his experience in Seoul’s Itaewon district on October 29 where a crowd crush occurred, a tragedy he thought “could have been prevented”.

On October 30, Yoon shared a now-deleted Instagram post recounting his Saturday night at Itaewon, when the incident unfolded. “I’ve never liked crowds, but I thought that I should enjoy the festival at least once,” he said in his original caption, as archived by Osen.

In his post, Yoon said he observed police officers were stationed at the main boulevard in Itaewon, but not at the World Food Street where the deadly crush occurred. As of October 31, the incident has claimed the lives of 154 people and injured 149 others, per Reuters.

The actor, who was with his girlfriend in Itaewon, arrived at a bar where he had a reservation and stayed indoors for the next hour. “I went outside to smoke, and I saw people getting carried down [the street],” he wrote. “More and more people were being carried out, and because they couldn’t carry them in ambulances anymore, they began putting people down in the alley and conducting CPR.”

“The police and paramedics on-site were insufficient [in number], so I ran in immediately and began performing CPR,” added Yoon, who observed “dozens of people” performing CPR on victims in the surrounding alleyways. He shared that he had performed CPR on an unconscious victim for about 20 minutes, while his girlfriend rubbed their arms and legs to encourage blood circulation. The victim ultimately could not be saved, Yoon said.

Yoon said that in his opinion, the crowd crush was preventable. “There were warning signs that foretold this catastrophe, which could have been prevented. There was news in advance that a large crowd was expected [at Itaewon], and the police should have been at the World Food Street, where people actually flock, not the main boulevard,” he wrote. “I can’t help thinking that the police should’ve been in the middle [of the street] to ensure people could keep to their right.”

At the end of his post, Yoon urged authorities to evaluate the root cause of the incident to ensure such a tragedy would not happen again. The South Korean government has yet to state an official cause for the incident at the time of publication.

Policemen at the scene of the deadly crowd crush at Itaewon district, Seoul on October 30, 2022. Credits: Chung Sung-jun/Getty Images

However, the National Police Agency’s Public Order Management Bureau chief Hong Ki-hyun has since admitted the police did not “expect that large-scale casualties would occur” in Itaewon.

“It was foreseen that a large number of people would gather there. But we didn’t expect that large-scale casualties would occur due to the gathering of many people,” he said today (October 31), per Yonhap News Agency. “I was told that police officers on the scene didn’t detect a sudden surge in the crowd.”

While Hong did not address whether police officers were deployed ineffectively, as Yoon and other commentators have claimed, he did say that most officers on-site had been focused on “cracking down on illegalities and crimes and managing road traffic”.

South Korea’s entertainment industry has joined the rest of the country in a national period of mourning that lasts till November 5. Events and concerts have been called off, while music releases and comebacks have been indefinitely postponed.

Among the 154 people reported dead from the crowd crush was 24-year-old actor and former Produce 101 contestant Lee Ji-han. “Please send a warm farewell to [Lee], who left us too soon,” wrote his agency 935 Entertainment in an official statement. “We will also remember Lee, who shone beautifully with his passion for acting.”