Itaewon Tragedy Takes Toll on Nation's Mental Health

  • By Kim Min-jung

    November 03, 2022 08:56

    A growing number of Koreans are shutting down mentally after the Halloween stampede in Itaewon that killed more than 150 people. Sufferers are reluctant to go to crowded places or leave their home altogether. 
    Lee Tae-joo (32), who was in Itaewon when the tragedy happened, said, "I have to take packed subways to go to work and now I have trouble breathing and remember the victims, which is hard to endure." 
    Mental trauma can be triggered by the sharing of graphic photos on social media. One 28-year-old office worker who lives in Uiwang, Gyeonggi Province, said, "I go to Itaewon often and I just can't believe what happened. I keep seeing photos online and it makes me feel queasy and my head hurts."  
    Parents worry about sending their children on school trips. One 46-year-old mother of a high school student in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, said, "My son is scheduled to travel to Jeju Island on a school trip soon and I don't know if I should send him. I and other parents are thinking of asking the school to cancel the trip." 
    Lee Byoung-hoon, a psychologist at Chungang University, said, "Just as Americans felt after 9/11, the latest tragedy appears to be spreading fears about safety in our daily lives." 
    Mental health experts say this could trigger anxiety, depression, panic, rage, lethargy and dissociative disorders. 
    According to the Korean Society of Traumatic Stress Studies, sufferers can recover on their own, but treatment is necessary if the symptoms are severe. People experiencing anxiety for more than a month should suspect post-traumatic stress disorder and seek help. 
    Shin Yong-wook at Asan Medical Center said, "Rather than advising people to forget about what happened, it is more helpful to listen and offer them support."  
    • Copyright © Chosunilbo &
    Previous Next
    All Headlines Back to Top