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Deadly Korean Stampede's Impact Felt On Halloween In LA's Koreatown

Blood tainted shoes are placed by pairs in rows.
Blood tainted shoes retrieved by police from the scene of a fatal Halloween crowd surge that killed more than 150 people in the Itaewon district are displayed at a gymnasium for relatives of victims to collect, in Seoul on Nov. 1, 2022.
(Anthony Wallace
AFP via Getty Images)
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The Halloween celebration stampede that killed over 150 people on Sunday in Seoul has hit Los Angeles' large Korean community hard, and has put a damper on local Halloween celebrations.

How the news spread here: Steve Kang, with the Koreatown Youth and Community Center, said his first awareness that something terrible had taken place came in text messages from friends in Seoul and breaking news alerts on his phone.

"I think that's how many within the Korean American community found out about the tragedy in Itaewon. And that really shocked all of us .... at the time, there was very little information about the exact cause of the incident," he said. "So we were just perplexed with whether it was a mass shooting, whether it was just a rampage. So a lot of things were going through our heads and trying to make sure that all of our friends and family in Korea were safe."
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The connection to L.A.: Kang said Itaewon is "very popular" amongst local Koreans, as well as the expatriate community in Seoul. He noted that while many of the dead had South Korean citizenship, "many of the victims had actually studied here in the States at different universities. So I'm still getting messages from, you know, alumni and others who said, 'Oh, I remember this student from back in the day.' So it's another layer of sadness for all of us."

What's next: The community center is considering organizing a local tribute. It's also looking at bringing back CPR classes for the Koreatown community to help people prepare for any similar incidents in the future.