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The tragedy of Itaewon: the confession of a policeman who tried to stem the tide of the Halloween crowd

A policeman, Kim Baek-gyeom was still seen sputtering at something he saw on Saturday night in Seoul's Itaewon area.

"We received reports of fights in the area, so I came to the scene between 10.10pm and 10.15pm," he told the BBC at the police station in Itaewon, which is only a few mtr away. from the site of the disaster.

"I try to do my job, to help people. It's a pity that I can't."

But a video, shared on social media, shows his desperate attempt to turn some people out of the alley. The video drew flattery from the South Korean public, which highlighted the lack of police arrivals at the scene that night.

In the video, you witness a young man wearing a uniform--there visibly worried on his face-- anxiously trying to stem the tide of crowds to stay away from the narrow alley where more than 150 people at the end lost their lives.

"Some people are critical!" the young man shouted unhappily. "Everyone is here - please cooperate!"

Kim Baek-gyeom's police shouldn't be there. Although he was in the heart of the Itaewon area, he was not assigned to stand guard on the streets that night.

The streets of the area were last encountered by more than 100,000 people, mostly young people, who arrived to enjoy a night of Hololeen celebrations.

"I was at the station, waiting to be sent to deal with the crime case that happened in Itaewon that night," he said.

There is no explanation for mass arrangements--either at night or on the days leading up to Halloween.

"We received a report that there was a brawl near the alley, so I went to the scene immediately."

At that time, Kim Baek-gyeom police witnessed several people crowding. Several people were squeezed and depressed at the end of the alley connecting a special road.

To try to withstand more and more urges, he decided if he needed to stop people jumping over the alley.

"Just like you witnessed in the video, I started screaming and asking some people to move to other places," he said.

The majority of people around him, followed his instructions and many began to help direct some people. Later, several dozen people helped perform CPR to some of the victims as crowd-setting efforts quickly transitioned into security operations.

Constable Kim Baek-gyeom explained that he did not witness any other police officers at the scene. Although he was further told if someone was participating in the precarious security.

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Working alone--without megaphones or any basic ideas of action-- it is placed on an impossible task, to try to withstand the calamity that occurs.

The loss of a great life has already left a strong feeling of guilt.

"I don't feel like I'm doing the job optimally. I didn't fulfill my job as a Korean policeman and I'm really sorry," he said.

On Thursday (3/11), the mother of disaster victim Itaewon contacted police Kim Baek-gyeom to express her gratitude for her actions that night.

"I really regret thanking him," police officer Kim said.

"I didn't do my job that night. If I don't know how I can meet the sad part of the family and express my apologies and talk to them, I want to do."

The families of the victims of the Itaewon disaster currently want answers, as anger at the ruling party continues to grow in South Korea.

On Wednesday (2/11), special investigators visited eight police stations throughout Seoul to gather evidence as part of the investigation into how the incident occurred.

The evidence took the form of the inability to eradicate the ruling faction. First, for a good plan on Saturday night, they responded to the precarious situation by alerting the crowds, when visitors began to arrive sometime before the event.

On the day approaching the disaster, local councillor Yongsan-gu held two face-to-face meetings to review how to handle the Halloween event. According to the local council's website, they are reviewing Covid-19, garbage collection and illegal parking, and a few other things.

There is no mention of mass setting issues, although the mayor of the area admitted that one day earlier if this event could be the first Halloween after 3 years of being eliminated.

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On Tuesday (1/11), South Korea's police chief admitted that his member's quick response was "insufficient" and that he felt "absolutely responsible" for the deaths.

Kim Baek-gyeom's police efforts, however, have attracted the amazement of residents. But he wants to concentrate on the victims' families.

"Some people contacted me and asked me if I was okay," he said.

"But compared to worrying me, think of the family problems left behind where they are the ones who suffer the most. Please pray for them."

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