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Memorial Opens In LA For Those Who Died In South Korea Halloween Tragedy

A woman dressed in black bows her head in front of an altar with more than half a dozen white chrysanthemums, four candles, and incense burning in an urn.
Jean Choi, a Korean American Federation Los Angeles board member, lays a white chrysanthemum at an altar for those killed in a stampede in South Korea this past weekend.
(Adolfo Guzman-Lopez
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The memorial is simple: Half a dozen white chrysanthemums lie side-by-side on a table covered with a black tablecloth. Incense burns in a metal holder and four candles flicker, two electronic and two with a real flame.

The Korean American Federation of Los Angeles opened the memorial Tuesday at its Koreatown offices in honor of more than 150 people who died Sunday in Seoul’s Itaewon district during a crush of people on overcrowded, narrow streets. The tragedy started while local youth were out celebrating Halloween.

The memorial is one indication of how a disaster 6,000 miles from Los Angeles has shaken one of the region’s largest diaspora populations. Hundreds of thousands of Korean and Korean Americans live in Southern California, said James An, president of the Korean American Federation of Los Angeles.

“It's a devastating tragedy,” An said. “It really hits harder because most of the victims were in their 20s and 30s. I mean we're talking about people's children, sons, or daughters.”

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An altar on a table covered with a black tablecloth includes white flowers, candles, and incense. A banner above it says in Korean that this is a memorial dedicated to the Itaewon disaster and below it the words express condolences for those killed.
An altar at the Korean American Federation of Los Angeles dedicated to people killed in a stampede in Seoul this past weekend.
(Adolfo Guzman-Lopez

That’s what brought Sejin Yoo to the memorial. He picked a white flower from a container next to the memorial, placed it on the black tablecloth next to the others, stood for several seconds and bowed his head.

“I cried,” he said after paying his respects. He said he has a son and a daughter in their 20s and seeing so many young people killed in Seoul’s Itaewon district caused him grief.

South Korean public officials, including police, are beginning to take responsibility for the mass loss of life.

About The L.A. Memorial

  • Hours: The memorial will be open to the public through Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Federation’s headquarters in Koreatown.
  • Location: 981 S. Western Ave., Suite 100, Los Angeles
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