After the deadly Halloween outbreak, hundreds of lost shoes were handed over to owners in Seoul

Days after more than 150 Halloween fans died in South Korea’s deadliest stampede, a silent but terrifying reminder of the devastation remained Tuesday: Hundreds of abandoned shoes have been laid out in neat rows on a badminton court in the capital, Seoul.

Police collected the crumpled tennis shoes, loafers and Chuck Taylors – part of the 1.5 tonnes of personal belongings left behind by victims and survivors – in the hope that their owners or friends and family would retrieve them.

South Korea Crowd Surge Lost Shoes
Shoes are seen among a huge collection of items found in Itaewon after South Korea’s deadly crowd surge, at a temporary lost and found center at a gym in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022.

Lee Jin-man / AP

The deadly crash in the nearby Itaewon nightlife district happened after tens of thousands gathered for Halloween celebrations on Saturday night. Part of the crowd was jammed into a narrow, downhill alleyway between a dense row of storefronts and the area’s landmark Hamilton Hotel. Bystanders were seen carrying the injured and dead, while dozens of lifeless bodies covered in blankets were lined up on the nearby sidewalk.

Most of the victims were women and many of them were missing shoes, which experts say reflects the force of the crowd that knocked their shoes off their feet during the crash.

About 250 pairs of gym shoes are part of a huge collection of abandoned items found in Itaewon after the tragedy. There are also hundreds of items of clothing, including coats and costumes of movie characters, as well as bags, smartphones, Bluetooth headsets and a few passports, including at least one belonging to a US citizen.

Yongsan police officials, who will keep the gym open 24 hours until Sunday, did not immediately confirm how many of the items had been returned to their owners.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 156 people have been confirmed dead and 151 are being treated for injuries, with 29 of them in critical condition. South Korean officials admitted responsibility and apologized for failures to prevent and deal with the tragedy.

Officials say 26 of the dead were foreign nationals, including five Iranians, four Chinese, four Russians, two Japanese and two Americans — University of Kentucky student Anne Gieske and Kennesaw State University student Steven Blesi.

Among the victims was 24-year-old Korean actor and singer Lee Jihan, whose agency 935 Fun confirmed in an announcement.

South Korea Crowd Surge Lost Shoes
Clothes collected from the scene of a fatal accident following Halloween festivities on Saturday night are placed at a temporary lost and found center at a gym in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022.

Lee Jin-man / AP

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