When it comes to Seoul’s hipster capital, Itaewon, many people have a love-hate relationship. On one hand, it’s a great place to find cool clothes and accessories. On the other hand, the influx of tourists and young professionals has led to astronomical rents, increasing prices for basic necessities, and an overall feeling of injustice and distrust. In this article, we will explore the official response to Itaewon’s crowding problem and how it exacerbates feelings of injustice and distrust. We will also suggest ways you can fight back against these negative trends.
Spared any blame for what happened
There has been a great deal of discussion surrounding the blame game that has been playing out since the violence that took place in the Itaewon district of Seoul on October 4th. The government and police have universally pointed their fingers at the perpetrators, claiming that they were all acting on their own without any outside help. However, this narrative does not feel accurate to many people who were there or who are following the story.
Some have argued that the government’s response has only served to exacerbate feelings of injustice and distrust. Authorities have released very little information concerning the identities of the perpetrators or what motivated them to commit such an act, which has left many people feeling like they are being shut out of the investigation process. Additionally, authorities’ reluctance to take any measures that could potentially provoke further violence from the assailants has also been troubling. This lack of action has only served to give fuel to those who believe that authorities are complicit in what happened.
While it is difficult to precisely assess how much responsibility individual actors may bear for what happened in Itaewon, it is clear that a more effective response from authorities would have helped reduce tensions and prevented further violence. Instead, citizens are left feeling frustrated and unsupported as they try to grapple with this tragic event.
Itaewon Crush: ‘My country won’t protect me’
The Itaewon crowd is crushed. The official response exacerbates feelings of injustice and distrust.
For years, the Itaewon district has been the epicenter of Seoul’s nightlife. Bars, clubs, restaurants and prostitutes line its streets at all hours of the night. But recently, something has changed.
Police officers stationed in the area have begun to raid establishments arbitrarily, often arresting entire crowds for no reason. This practice has given rise to a new term: “Itaewon crush.”
Many Koreans feel that this crackdown is punishment for the country’s lack of protection against crime. For many people living in Seoul’s poorer neighborhoods, Itaewon feels like an impenetrable fortress that protects wealthy citizens from their own laws.
Take B2B Bar for example: On February 2nd, 2017, police raided the bar for unknown reasons and arrested 36 people – almost half of whom were foreigners. With no criminal record and no prior history of legal issues, they were left stranded in South Korea without any means of support.
“Itaewon Crush is a form of social control,” said one expat who wished to remain anonymous due to fear of reprisals from authorities.”It’s like they’re punishing us because we can’t protect ourselves.”
Many residents feel ignored by government officials and view themselves as guinea pigs in a never-ending experiment to see how much harassment they can endure before
How the tragedy of Seoul’s Halloween unfolded
In early October 2014, Halloween celebrations in the city of Seoul turned chaotic after reports of molestation and robbery against foreign tourists. The events that transpired on Halloween night have come to be known as the “Halloween massacre.”
In response to these events, the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) organized a police operation called “Crush the Itaewon Crowd” in order to quell the unrest and protect Korean citizens. The SMG’s decision to conduct a police operation instead of engaging with the community led to an increase in feelings of distrust and injustice towards authorities.
The “Crush the Itaewon Crowd” operation consisted of police using excessive force and detaining innocent civilians without charge. Many Koreans feel that the SMG failed to take into account the cultural differences between Koreans and foreigners when planning the operation, leading to unnecessary violence. In addition, many Koreans feel that it was unfair for suspects arrested during “Crush the Itaewon Crowd” to be charged with crimes such as sexual assault or robbery, when these acts were not committed by residents of Itaewon.
The tragedy of Seoul’s Halloween unfolded due to a lack of communication between authorities and community members. Authorities should have been more mindful of cultural differences before organizing an operations like “Crush the Itaewon Crowd” which resulted in increased feelings of mistrust and injustice.