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Crowds return for Halloween weekend one 12 months after Seoul crush tragedy

1 of 11 | Visitors returned to the Seoul neighborhood of Itaewon on Saturday, one year after the Halloween crowd crush that claimed 159 lives. Photo by Thomas Maresca/UPI SEOUL, Oct. 28 (UPI) — On the eve of the one-year anniversary of the Halloween crowd crush that left 159 dead, small groups of visitors returned

Crowds return for Halloween weekend one 12 months after Seoul crush tragedy

1 of 11 | Guests returned to the Seoul neighborhood of Itaewon on Saturday, one 12 months after the Halloween crowd crush that claimed 159 lives. Photograph by Thomas Maresca/UPI

SEOUL, Oct. 28 (UPI) — On the eve of the one-year anniversary of the Halloween crowd crush that left 159 lifeless, small teams of holiday makers returned to bars and golf equipment close to the Itaewon website of the tragedy amid a large safety presence.

Whereas revelers returned on Saturday evening, costumes had been in brief provide and Halloween-themed decorations had been non-existent within the nightlife neighborhood.

Police, nevertheless, had been out in an amazing present of drive — a pointy distinction to final Oct. 29, when authorities confronted heavy criticism for failing to organize for a turnout of greater than 100,000 partygoers after which botching their response to the harmful, in the end lethal, overcrowding in a slender alley.

This 12 months, short-term barricades had been erected to create one-way pedestrian site visitors flows, with groups of officers in yellow vests directing crowds with mild batons as emergency employees and contours of ambulances stood by.

For some guests, the impact was each reassuring and barely surreal.

“It’s extremely completely different right here tonight,” Choi Music-joo mentioned as he contemplated whether or not to stay round or transfer on to a different neighborhood. “My emotions are up and down about it.”

Itaewon’s bar homeowners, who had been solely starting to get better from the COVID-19 pandemic earlier than final 12 months’s tragedy struck, had been additionally uncertain of what to anticipate on what has historically been the busiest weekend of the 12 months.

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“It is a exhausting state of affairs,” Will Watson, proprietor of Irish pub Shenanigans, mentioned. “We’re simply making an attempt to associate with the temper of the neighborhood tonight.”

The weekend’s heightened safety measures unfold to a number of different widespread nightlife and tourism areas in Seoul, together with Hongdae and Myeongdong, with town’s police drive deploying greater than 1,200 personnel to bolster security in areas which might be anticipated to attract massive crowds.

On-site command posts had been arrange in 4 districts, whereas the hearth division mentioned it was pre-allocating hospital beds to deal with any emergency sufferers from an accident.

Guests to Itaewon on Saturday additionally stopped by to go away notes on a memorial wall on the entrance to the slender lane the place the crush passed off, which was formally designated the “October 29 Memorial Alley.” Households of the victims and survivors spoke out earlier this week, saying that they’re nonetheless ready for solutions and accountability from the South Korean authorities for the catastrophe.

As Saturday evening wore on in Itaewon, nevertheless, the temper wasn’t solely somber. Music poured out from balconies and open-air patios on the gentle October night whereas a modest however regular stream of bar-hoppers continued to reach.

One group of about ten pals gathered close to the memorial in costumes of witches’ hats and face paint, decided to unfold some cheer all through the neighborhood by singing songs, greeting guests and handing out ribbons and stickers.

“We got here to mourn joyfully,” Kin Jio, a member of the group, mentioned. “We wish to ship the message that what occurred final 12 months wasn’t [the victims’] fault. The individuals who got here right here to get pleasure from Halloween, this was not their duty.”

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