Lee Ji-han, a K-pop singer and actor best known for his role in a music competition series, was among the more than 150 people who died in the Seoul crowd surge October 29, a tragedy that occurred during Halloween celebrations in the city’s Itaewon neighborhood. He was 24. Lee’s agency, 935 Entertainment, confirmed the news in a statement. “We are sad to deliver such news today, but Lee Ji-han has passed away in the crush in Itaewon last night,” the statement reads. “We would like to express our deepest condolences to his family, who are saddened by the sudden tragic news, also to everyone who loved him.” Born in 1998, the singer rose to fame in 2017 after competing on the second season of Produce 101, a music competition series in which the audience-voted winners land a spot in a boy group. Lee began his acting career in 2019, starring in the comedy series Today Was Another Nam Hyun Day. “Lee Ji-han brightly smiled when greeting us all the time,” his agency wrote. “He had pure and positive energy with great passion for acting. It is very hard to believe that we cannot see him anymore. Please send your warm goodbye to Lee Ji-han. He’ll always be remembered.”
Lee was one of the 100,000 partygoers who converged on the Itaewon district for Halloweekend revelry. What should have been a fun night out for young people turned deadly when a crowd crush in a narrow alleyway reportedly killed at least 154 people and injured 132 with 33 of the injured still in serious condition. According to the Interior Ministry, 80 percent of the dead were in their 20s and 30s, 11 were teenagers, and 98 were women. Many criticized Seoul officials in the aftermath of the event for their failure to install crowd-control measures in anticipation of Halloween, where it’s normal for Itaewon — a red-light district turned nightlife hub — to draw large crowds to celebrate the holiday. Survivors recalled a “hell-like” chaos as the crush unfolded with music still blasting from clubs that had yet to learn the tragedy that occurred in the neighborhood. The crowd surge is South Korea’s deadliest disaster since 2014, when a ferry sinking killed 306 people, most of whom were high-school students who were in the same age group as many of the Itaewon victims today.