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‘For over 20 minutes, I administered CPR’: South Korean actor Yoon Hong-bin recounts harrowing Itaewon crowd crush experience

‘For over 20 minutes, I administered CPR’: South Korean actor Yoon Hong-bin recounts harrowing Itaewon crowd crush experience
Actor Yoon Hong-bin was a witness to the Itaewon crowd crush and jumped in to provide assistance to victims.
PHOTO: Instagram/Yoon Hong-bin, Reuters

It was supposed to be a fun Halloween weekend for partygoers in Seoul — the first non-masked event after three years of pandemic restrictions.

But on Saturday night (Oct 29), a crowd in the Itaewon district found themselves in a narrow alleyway at the Hamilton Hotel, when a surge pushed them downhill. The crowd crush resulted in 154 deaths as of Oct 30, 11pm Korean time (10pm Singapore time).

One person who was a witness to the events and jumped in to provide assistance to victims was 28-year-old actor Yoon Hong-bin (The Jingbirok: A Memoir of Imjin War, 2015).

Yesterday, he recalled in a now-deleted Instagram post: “I went to Itaewon with the thought of enjoying Halloween at Itaewon for the first time in my life, and yesterday I experienced a disaster right in front of my eyes.”

Not a fan of crowds, he was celebrating the “festival atmosphere” from inside a bar and had stepped out to smoke when he noticed people being rushed into ambulances, while others laid victims down on the street to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on them.

“For over 20 minutes, I administered CPR,” he recalled. “My girlfriend massaged the victim’s arms and legs, too. We tried mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.”

He added that they were “crying and praying for the victim to regain consciousness” and that people around them were “pleading with their loved ones to open their eyes while performing CPR”.

“From what I know, only one victim in the alley I was at eventually regained consciousness. The person I was helping could not be saved in the end.”

Hong-bin added that he felt that there were “early signs” to this tragedy and that it could have been “entirely preventable”. He felt it was a shame that there were police present on either side of the street but nobody thought to “dispatch them in the middle to guide people”.

Actor Lee Ji-han among casualties

Actor and former Produce 101 contestant Lee Ji-han was one of the 154 who died at Itaewon. The 24-year-old was set to appear in an upcoming MBC drama Season of Kok-du, according to reports.

Park Hee-seok, a fellow Produce 101 contestant, took to Instagram to share his regret at not being able to meet Ji-han before his death. He also posted details of Ji-han’s funeral, which will be held tomorrow, on his Instagram Stories.

Hee-seok wrote: “I told myself I would see you before I went to Japan and I’m so angry at myself for waiting until my preparations were done. I’m sorry and I love you, Ji-han.”

South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol has declared a period of national mourning until Nov 5, and many popular events have been postponed or cancelled, including the upcoming Running Man episode with BTS’ Jin and SM Entertainment’s Halloween party.

ALSO READ: South Korea mourns, wants answers after Halloween crush kills 153

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