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Korean Catholics pray for Halloween stampede victims

The tragedy in Seoul on Oct. 29 killed 154 people including 26 foreigners
A Catholic nun lays flowers in memory of the Halloween stampede tragedy at the South Korean capital Seoul on Oct. 31

A Catholic nun lays flowers in memory of the Halloween stampede tragedy at the South Korean capital Seoul on Oct. 31. (Photo: Catholic Times of Korea)

Published: November 04, 2022 10:24 AM GMT
Updated: November 04, 2022 11:38 AM GMT

Catholics across South Korea offered prayers in churches and cemeteries on All Souls Day remembering their loved ones and the victims of the Halloween stampede in the capital Seoul.

Catholics joined a commemorative Mass on Nov. 2 praying for those who died in the stampede at the Itaewon area of the capital city on Oct. 29.

Archbishop Peter Chung Soon-taek of Seoul presided over the Mass concelebrated by Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung and Auxiliary Bishop Job Yobi Koo and other bishops and priests of the archdiocese, Catholic Peace Broadcasting Corporation of Korea (CPBC) reported on Nov. 2.

“Let's remember the victims of last weekend's Itaewon accident with our common goal, join in the pain of their families, and make offerings in memory of the victims," Archbishop Chung said.

Father Cheol-hak Lee of Taereung parish in Seoul urged the gathering to “always be awake and live as people full of love and humility.”

All South Korean dioceses offered prayers in their churches to show solidarity with the Itaewon victims on All Souls Day.

At least 154 people, including 26 foreigners, were killed and 33 people were hospitalized in the stamped. 

It occurred when around 100,000 people in Halloween costumes poured into two narrow streets for partying, resulting in a stampede.

Earlier on Oct. 31, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea (CBCK) had termed the tragedy a result of “the cycle of injustice and irresponsibility” that has become a common practice in this society, which all must strive to break.

“To do this, we must first be faithful to our respective roles,” they said.

The bishops also offered “deepest condolences to the bereaved families,” and called for a detailed investigation to identify the root cause of the incident.

The Halloween tragedy sparked a nationwide public outcry in a country hitherto known for its crowd management.

The anger was also expressed on social media platforms.

"I think the cause of the disaster was (lack of) crowd control," a Twitter user wrote.

President Yoon Suk-yeol visited the location of the tragedy on Sunday and declared a week of national mourning until Nov. 5.

Entertainment events and concerts have been canceled and flags nationwide are flying at half-mast.

Itaewon is famous for its nightlife and restaurants, and many Korean youngsters and foreign nationals visit the district for partying.

The Halloween party was the first to be organized after the nation lifted its Covid-19 pandemic restrictions and allowed public gatherings without masks.

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