I'll revisit last year's lengthy post about the anniversary of New Kids On The Block's 1992 trip to Seoul. A stampede at their concert two days after their arrival left a student dead and fifty people injured.
Here's a look at their arrival at Gimpo Airport on February 16th.
A Chicago Sun-Times article from February 18th, 1992 has the story after the concert:
A stampede at a concert Monday by the singing group New Kids on the Block left about 30 teenagers injured, witnesses said.
The accident occurred 40 minutes into a concert by the teen idols at a gymnastics hall in Olympic Park before 16,000 people, the witnesses said.
About 200 fans, most of them teenage girls sitting in front rows, stood up and swarmed around the stage, they said. Hundreds of other fans pushed from behind, crushing those in front. The performance was halted, the witnesses said.
The American singers, unhurt, were escorted away by about 20 security guards.
"It was pandemonium," one witness said. "Many girls lay unconscious on the floor, some screaming in pain."
The pop group, which was mobbed when it arrived at Seoul's Kimpo Airport on Sunday, is on a concert tour of 45 cities in 23 nations.
From a Chicago Sun-Times article a day later:
An 18-year-old South Korean high school student died Wednesday from injuries suffered when frenzied fans stormed the stage during a concert by the rock group New Kids on the Block.
A hospital spokesman said Park Chong-yun, among at least 50 fans hurt during Monday night's concert, lapsed into a coma Tuesday. She died early Wednesday morning.
News reports said prosecutors have sought an arrest warrant for Hong Hyon-pyo, 33, president of Sorabul Records, which sponsored the concert. Prosecutors allege the promoters sold more tickets than there were seats in Seoul's Olympic Gymnasium.
The rowdy behavior of the teenage fans has shocked staid South Korea, where teenagers are expected to study, respect their elders and not make a fuss.
"The picture that our teenagers have portrayed to us during the concert has left many people in shock," the influential Dong-A Ilbo newspaper said.
The concert before an audience of 15,000 had to be stopped after the stage was stormed but resumed 3 1/2 hours later.
Both articles are now, unfortunately, pay-per-view. This year, though, more articles are available via Google News archive searches. Here's what's written in a February 18th Gadsden Times: article
Police say they would charge with negligence the organizer of a New Kids On the Block concert during which a teen-age girl was killed and more than 50 people injured in a stampede.
About 200 screaming fans had rushed the stage during the U.S. pop group's concert Monday at Seoul's Olympic Gymnastic Hall, which police allege was overcrowded.
Park Jung-yun, 17, died early today of injuries suffered in the stampede. She had been listed as brain dead since her heart stopped beating on Monday. Police said Hong Hyon-pyo, chief organizer of the concert, could face up to two years in prison if convicted of negligence.
I also found a really interesting 1993 article (.doc file) from, I believe, Click Korea. It looks at the rise in popularity of Seo Tae-ji and questions how Korean the popular Korean music of the day really was given all the borrowing K-pop acts were---and, of course, are still---doing. But there is one excerpt relevant to this post:
Rap and the “Seo Tae-ji syndrome” took the older generation by surprise, but they should have been warned. The first sign came last February when American teen idols, New Kids on the Block, hit Korea. Their effect was both devastating and eye-opening. Starting with a melee upon their arrival at the airport, their visit ended with an aborted concert and 50 hysterical female fans in hospital.
Organizers of the concert took their share of the blame for their lack of proper planning and their greed in filling the concert hall beyond capacity. The brunt of the attack, however, fell on the young fans. “What is wrong with them?” people asked “How can they act so crazy? Where did this behavior come from?”
The New Kids phenomenon was branded an undesirable import. With rather misguided intentions, the Culture Ministry promptly moved to ban any concert that had the potential of arousing similar hysteria. Paula Abdul was allowed in, but Michael Jackson never had a chance.
The whole article is interesting, especially when it talks about local artists mimicking and thereby "filtering" foreign musicians and styles, so give it a read. However I haven't been able to find anything else about the New Kids or the Culture Ministry's policies toward raucous concerts. Other pay-per-view articles say that teenagers not accompanied by parents were prohibited from entering a Paula Abdul concert the following week. As for Michael Jackson, he "reportedly loved" bibimbap when he eventually came to Korea.
Of course, that behavior isn't exclusive to Korea's young fans. In 2005 there was an even more deadly stampede at a trot concert in Sangju.
Concertgoers trying to enter a stadium Monday sparked a stampede, killing eight women and three boys, and injuring 72 others, officials said.
The accident occurred at about 5:40 p.m. (0840 GMT) in the city of Sangju, 165 miles southeast of Seoul, when 20,000 people were waiting to enter a stadium for a concert that had been organized by a television network, said Kim Sung-in, an official with the city government's disaster management division.
Kim said 11 people died when one of the gates opened to let the audience inside, and that the death toll could rise by another one or two.
Another city official said the dead were eight women aged from 54 to 76, along with three boys aged 7, 12 and 14. Another 72 people were injured, said the official, who refused to give his name.
"There were elderly people in the front, and when pushed from behind the elderly people in the first row fell, leading to a chain reaction of falling and being crushed," Kang Mi-kyung, an eyewitness, told South Korea's Yonhap news agency.
A little Googling brings up examples of others, and you notice something in common with them and with the NKOTB incident. In July, 1959, a sudden rainstorm prompted a stampede at a concert that killed 68 people; from the Reading Eagle on July 18, 1959:
Authorities said 51 children under 10 were among the dead and that at least 26 persons were killed at the narrow gates of the Pusan Municipal Stadium as the audience of 70,000 surged toward the shelter. They said the death toll may increase.
Forty persons were hospitalized and scores of other injured were taken to their homes without treatment, police said.
The show on the night of Constitution Day, a national holiday, was sponsered by the newspaper Kukje Shinbo. The newspaper issued an apology and expressed condolences for the victims. It said the facilities of the stadium, which normally holds 50,000, were improper and exit gates were narrow and few.
In 1960 thirty-one were killed trying to catch the train to Mokpo; from the St. Petersburg Times on January 26, 1960:
A human stampede trampled 31 Koreans, including 11 children, to death last night at a railway station in Seoul. Forty-nine persons were injured, some seriously.
The human mass of travelers bound for the country to celebrate the lunar new year piled up at the foot of a staircase leading to a train platform.
Railway officials said one person apparently tripped and started the pileup.
. . .
Station officials said more than 3,000 tickets had been sold for the train's 16 coaches. Normal maximum capacity for such a train is about 1,300.
When the wickets were opened "it was as though a dike had broken," said one eyewitness. "People streamed out of the gates and formed a huge single pack of humanity hurrying frantically towards the train. Policemen whistled madly to control the crowd but it was impossible."
TIME magazine has more:
The train was already five minutes late because the railroad, under the press of crowds leaving Seoul for the Lunar New Year celebrations, had sold 2,300 more tickets than the 18-coach train could carry. At that moment on Track 3 underneath the waiting room, the engineer of the Mokpo train blew a long whistle blast to signal switch crews to add more coaches.
Impatient passengers upstairs mistook the whistle for the last call to board. There was a stampede to the steep, 14-ft.-wide stone stairway leading down to the platform, whose steps were covered with snow that had drifted in through the station's broken roof. Someone slipped, and in seconds the stair shaft was corked with screaming, struggling people. When the rush was over, 31 were dead, eleven of them children, in the worst railway disaster in Korean history.
In 1965 fourteen were killed in Gwangju when people tried to force their way into a stadium; from Reuters via the Montreal Gazette:says 100,000 people were outside the stadium, and sixteen people died.
Fourteen persons, including 12 old women and a two-year-old boy, were killed and 54 others seriously injured in a stampede outside a sports stadium at Kwangju South Korea.
It happened when a crowd of about 30,000, packed round the stadium were the annual National Games are being held, tried to its way in after the gates were closed. A capacity 25,000 persons were inside the stadium.
The main gate to the stadium collapsed as disappointed fans waving tickets surged forward. Police used fire hoses in a bid to drive them back.
The Miami News
In 1974 four were killed and fifty injured when boarding a train before the Chuseok holiday, writes the Modesto Bee, and in 1978 twenty collectors were injured while rushing to by commemorative silver coins. The AP writes, via the Tuscaloosa News on June 13, 1978:From the AP:
Today the crowd began forming at 4 a.m., when the nightly curfew ended. The stampede occurred at 9 a.m. when a bank guard tried to get the crowd into line by swinging a broom, witnesses said.
And perhaps the best-known stampede, to us anyway, happened at Lotte World in 2006, during a day of free admission in order to generate good publicity after an employee was killed on a ride.
Tens of thousands of people crowded to get free admission to an amusement park in Seoul on Sunday, triggering a stampede that injured 34 people, officials said.
About 50,000 people were waiting outside the Lotte World theme park on the first day of a six-day free-admission event when the accident happened, said Kim Heung-kyu, an official in the park’s operational department. Television footage showed the crowd swaying back and forth in front of a gate before the stampede occurred.
The Songpa Police Station said 34 people were injured in the accident. Injuries ranged from broken bones to abrasions, Kim said.
. . .
The theme park organized the event in an effort to improve its image after a person fell to his death during a roller coaster ride at the park earlier this month.
And, well, you can play with Google yourself to see what else turns up.
Hell, even American GIs in Korea got in on the act when Marilyn Monroe showed up in 1954. When we read that "[t]he brunt of the attack" in the aftermath of the New Kids concert
. . . fell on the young fans. “What is wrong with them?” people asked “How can they act so crazy? Where did this behavior come from?”it doesn't take too much work to answer those questions. After all, we've all been to E-Mart on a busy day or been caught at a crowded bus stop. The thing a lot of these incidents have in common, though, are organizers who overbooked the events, and as we've seen that isn't without precedent, either.
This was originally posted to Brian in Jeollanam-do on February 16, 2010. If you are reading this in full on another site, you are viewing an unauthorized feed.