Video of South Korean students' celebration shared in false posts about deadly Halloween crowd crush

A video viewed hundreds of thousands of times online has been shared alongside a false claim it shows a large group of students in Seoul's popular Itaewon entertainment district deliberately swaying back and forth shortly before a deadly Halloween crowd crush unfolded. In fact, the video shows the students partying in another district about eight kilometres (five miles) from where the crowd crush occurred.

The video was posted on Twitter on October 31, 2022. It has been viewed more than 210,000 times.

It shows a crowd swaying back and forth on a street while loud music plays in the background.

"More and more videos from Itaewon are leaking out, but this one shocked me the most... If [you] fall down, [you] really can't get back up," the simplified Chinese caption reads.

A screenshot, taken on November 1, 2022, of the false post.

At least 156 people -- mostly in their teens and 20s -- were killed in a deadly crowd crush on October 29 at the first Halloween party after the Covid pandemic in Seoul's Itaewon nightlife district.

South Korea's Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said police must explain failures to respond to multiple emergency calls ahead of the disaster, AFP reported.

Seoul's interior minister Lee Sang-min publicly apologised after the accident and admitted the authorities' handling of the situation had been "insufficient".

The video was shared on Twitter and Douyin alongside a similar claim.

However, the clip was filmed about eight kilometres (five miles) from where the tragedy unfolded in Itaewon.

It actually shows students and alumni from Korea University who gathered on October 29 to celebrate after a series of annual sports games with rival Yonsei University.

Student celebration

A frame-by-frame analysis of the video found a banner written in traditional Chinese, which reads in Korean as "Minjok Kodae".

"Minjok Kodae" is an official term the students use to refer to their university.

The banner -- circled in blue by AFP -- can be seen at the clip's five-second mark below:

A screenshot, taken on November 1, 2022, of the false post with the red banner and stage circled by AFP.

A keyword search on YouTube found a similar video posted on October 29 that shows Korea University students celebrating under the same banner and a stage backdrop with "Koyonjeon Special Stage" written on it in Korean.

The video is titled: "2022 Koyonjeon wrap-up party live Anam-dong Chamsali-gil 20221029".

Koyonjeon refers to five sporting events played annually between two of South Korea's top universities -- Korea University and Yonsei University. The games were staged on October 28 and 29 this year.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in the false post (left) and the YouTube video (right), with similarities circled in blue and yellow:

Screenshot comparison of the false video and the original video, with similarities in the banners circled.

A representative from Korea University's Student Union confirmed to AFP that the video shows its students celebrating in Chamsali-gil -- a street in Seoul's Seongbuk-gu district some eight kilometres (five miles) away from Itaewon.

"We reviewed the video and can confirm that it was not filmed at Itaewon but at Chamsali-gil," the representative said. "The video shows a wrap-up party after the 2022 Koyonjeon."

Shop signs seen in the video in the false post also correspond with Google Street View imagery of Chamsali-gil, as shown below:

Below is a screenshot comparison of a keyframe in the video (left) and the Google Street View imagery (right):

A screenshot comparison of the video in the false post (left) and the Google street view imagery (right). 

Videos showing the same celebration event were also shared on YouTube here and here on October 29.