16 Dead, Many Injured in Accident at 4Minute Concert

Since the Sewol tragedy in April, accidents related to lax safety measures have been gaining more and more attention from the media. The recent accident in Pangyo is another example of what can happen when safety measures are not taken seriously. As the story continues to unfold, so far 16 victims have died, and 11 are in critical condition. The day after the accident, the event organizer from the Gyeonggi Institute of Science and Technology Promotion was found dead in Bundang. He had tweeted a suicide note minutes earlier.

Article from Yonhap News:

16 Dead and 10 in Critical Condition From Vent Collapse At Concert in Pangyo.

pangyo vent accident 1

26 fans at a girl-group concert suffer a 10-meter fall. Firefighters fear more deaths.

26 fans at an outdoor concert venue in Pangyo Techno Valley (Gyeonggi-do, Seongnam) fell 4 stories (about 10 meters) into a ventilation shaft when its metal grating collapsed.

Scene of the accident in Pangyo showing the vent grating completely caved in.

Scene of the accident in Pangyo showing the vent grating completely caved in.

At 5:53 p.m. on the 17th, fans at an outdoor concert venue, U-Space, in Pangyo Techno Valley (Bundang, Seongnam City) climbed atop ventilation shaft grating to get a better view of the girl group’s show. 26 fans then fell [into the shaft] when the grating collapsed.

As of 8 p.m. we understand that 16 have died and 10 are in critical condition. Their identities have not been revealed by the fire department.

The critically injured have been transported to four area hospitals and are receiving treatment. Due to the amount of severely injured patients, an increase in the number of deceased is expected.

Firefighters transporting a victim to an area hospital.

Firefighters transporting a victim to an area hospital.

According to a fire department representative, 12 died at the scene and 2 died in transit to the hospital. The others died while receiving treatment at the hospital.

The representative added that the number of dead is predicted to go up, as the number of seriously injured patients is so high.

At the time of the accident, approximately 700 people had gathered to watch a concert.

A diagram showing the ventilation shaft and its location at the concert venue.

A diagram showing the ventilation shaft and its location at the concert venue.

At the concert venue, a number of people, hoping to get a closer look at the girl group, climbed atop a vent. This action led to their deaths.

The event in Pangyo’s Techno Valley was to commemorate the First Pangyo Techno Valley Festival. The event was hosted by Gyeonggi-do and the Gyeonggi Institute of Science and Technology Promotion. E-Daily and E-Daily TV were covering the event featuring 4Minute and other singers, which would last from 5-8 p.m.

Comments from Naver:

Each person’s “safety ignorance” seems to be at risk.


I’m sick of saying that year 2014 is the worst year ever. What if something else happens? I’m nervous about the future. I hope this accident is the end of bad accidents.


I hate not only people taking advantage of the deceased for their own political purposes, but also others controlling the situation to attack others. May they rest in peace.


These days an accident can happen in the blink of an eye.


Don’t blame [the lack of] safety personnel. This accident was the making of each of them [the victims].


Why are they attributing this accident to the builders? ke, ke. It would be weird if a ventilation grate stood still under the weight of 25 people jumping on it. People are so good at blaming others after doing something they are not supposed to do.


Have you been to the Gangbyeon Expressway during Fireworks Festival? People ignore police who shut the road down for safety. If something would have happened, they’d had blamed the police for not doing their jobs. This is the character of a Korean. I am sorry for the deceased but to blame immature people rather than government is the right thing to do.


People who climbed on the ventilation shaft are the ones who made a mistake.. My goodness..


I can’t understand why people are blaming everyone else.


What’s so good about watching celebrities? Why did they climb on the ventilation grate? Oh my..

Article from Hankyoreh:

A mother desperately calls out for the daughter she raised alone. She went to see a concert near her work, and fell into disaster.

“Mom came to take care of you…” Hearing the sighs of family members and the mother as she cries out her daughters name, looking into the distance. Even after sitting quietly for awhile, the tears fall heavily, leaning on a wall to cry in sorrow. The mother looks through her glasses, crying without end, because her beloved only daughter passed away before her.

24-year old Ms. Kang, who worked at an English education company near the concert venue, became a victim of the accident after she went to see the concert after work. Kang’s workplace was just a street away from the concert venue. “My niece sent three pictures of the 4Minute concert to her boyfriend on Kakao Talk at 5:52. Her boyfriend responded, but seeing that she hadn’t read his message, he became worried and kept calling her over and over,” said Kang’s aunt. Kang’s coworker, Kim (27), also lost her life after going to see the concert together.

Hearing how her family talks about her makes it clear how loved Kang was. She made sure to get scholarships during her entire 4 years of university, and got a job right after graduation. Kang lived with her mother and grandmother, but when her grandmother passed away, Kang was always there to take care of her mother. Kang’s aunt tells how “when her mother seemed like she would get depressed, [Kang] would go home after work to make dinner and take her mother on walks. She often would upload those pictures on her Kakao Story.” She showed a picture of her smiling niece wearing her graduation cap, and began to choke up. Now we are so worried about her mother, left all alone. What should we do. What are we going to do?”

The following day, the bodies of the victims of the accident laid in coffins, but since the altars at Seongnam Central Hospital (Seongnam City, Gyeonggi-do) have not yet been prepared for services, the families gathered in rooms 202 and 203 instead. There seemed to be no other sound than that of the feet of mourners making their way to the funeral hall. The families lean on the wall for more than an hour, barely moving at all. From time to time, a hand raises to wipe away the tears.

As soon as it becomes day, friends and acquaintances file into to the funeral hall. The mourning family of 30-year-old Son was visited by 6 university friends. As soon as she saw them, Son’s mother covered her face with her hands and wept. “He just said he would go see a concert and come home. How could he go before his mother and father? My child, your friends are here.” As the mother’s cries become louder, the friends lower their heads. Son’s university friends said that, “[they] got a call from a professor about the accident. [They] knew that he was taking classes as a company near Pangyo.”

Most of the victims of this accident in Pangyo were in their 30’s or 40’s and worked in the area. Lee, the aunt of a victim named Jeong (39) said, “She was the only out of four who was unmarried, the youngest daughter. She took care of her parents so well, and did so many wonderful things. Just yesterday she called on her way to work, asking if she should send some red ginseng to her parents in Jeonju.”

Comments from Naver:


Stop blaming the pitiful deceased and express sincere condolences.


Oh my goodness… May the victims rest in peace.


It makes me so sad.


Now people won’t climb on something like a ventilation shaft. Rest in peace.


It is such a pity. May the dead rest in peace.


How come a family’s personal story got published? What’s the point of a girl who is smart and good to her parents? Every life is precious regardless who they are or what they do. I don’t like this article at all.


It is such a tragedy. I read that the planner of this event killed himself, but I think he shouldn’t be blamed. He has his parents, wife, and children too. Maybe he committed suicide under the pressure of journalists asking about his role in the accident. Of course I feel bad for the deceased but feel worse for him.


I’ve always been curious about news stories that talk about dead children who always got many scholarships or always got lots of awards. Does a journalist only choose emotional stories to be the news?


An article should provide facts, so why is this article so full of emotions?


Everyone has their own story and their own family. We should observe public etiquette to prevent this kind of accident. This is the way to keep you and others safe. Rest in peace.


I’m sorry for saying this but it is true that the accident resulted from the messed-up thinking of adults. Even kindergarten students know that they should not climb on where the accident happened because it is dangerous. Aren’t we creating this “safety ignorance” ourselves, and pushing the event planner to kill himself? If you want to think and act by yourself, aren’t you supposed to not blame the government for everything?


This kind of personal story can’t remove her guilt and put the responsibility onto others. This happened because of “safety ignorance” – not by children, but by adults.


I would understand if a bridge fell down when people were crossing it.


She was a good daughter but she didn’t have a good sense of public behavior.


I prefer not to read this kind of article. I understand their personal stories are pitiful, but is the media supposed to cover them? Korean media tends to be heavy on the good writing while neglecting its broadcasting duty. During the Sewol ferry accident, foreign media did its job well keeping an objective point of view. On the other hand, Korean media was trying to get any story from the bereaved families and survivors, which looked quite unsightly.


Though everybody has excuses, people should know that it’s a personal mistake, not a problem of how it was built.


This Pangyo accident proves what trash Koreans are. If you watched the news, some concerned people asked them to come down, saying it was dangerous to be up on a ventilation grate. But they were ignored and they stayed there to get a closer look at some celebrities.


I don’t want a journalist to write this kind of article. Is it supposed to appeal to peoples’ feelings? Instead, write an objective article please. Rest in peace.


The media has started to appeal to our feelings. Old people will cry and fall for it.


For me the project manager who killed himself is the most pitiful.

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  • lonetrey / Dan

    … Tragic loss of life.

    But I don’t think it’s fair to pin everything on the event planner. My own sense of “common sense” would’ve kept me off the shaky, unstable grating.

    Definitely a regrettable turn of events. The second article just adds to the sadness.

    • crxrunn

      I agree, both sides were at fault. Let’s not berate the dead for an unfortunate turn of events.

      I am never stepping on one of those again, however

  • JJ

    While this was a sad accident, that’s what it was- An accident. 26 people on a ventilation shaft? It’s common sense that it’s not meant to hold that many people, something most adults should know.. The fact that the event planner felt the need to commit suicide says something about the public’s need to find a scapegoat. :(

    The second article is just unnecessary. If you’re going to publish one person’s story, then you should do the same with everyone else. They all deserve to be remembered.

  • Chucky3176

    Just have a look at this picture.


    I’m sorry they died, but come on, just look at the bent grate. The vent cover was raised well above the ground, they had to climb on top, and then pile onto it. The common sense should tell you that three dozen people on the grate may not be safe. Yet, people were piling onto it, even when they saw that it was bending in the middle, just to watch some girly group singing lip sync and dance like strippers.

    What’s the use of all those university educated diplomas if they can’t use their common sense logic? They look like morons. What do you say about people who decide that it’s safe to stand on top of the bridge and falls? It’s their own damn fault.

    • 금정산

      I’m not sure of that really is a downward bend or if it just looks that way because of the curved front-end.

      If it is bending, a material like that would wobble beneath your feet.

  • Chucky3176

    This Korean comment just about sums it up for me:

    “This Pangyo accident proves what trash Koreans are. If you watched the news, some concerned people asked them to come down, saying it was dangerous to be up on a ventilation grate. But they were ignored and they stayed there to get a closer look at some celebrities.”

    They were told repeatedly to come down from there, but decided not to… well… I know I shouldn’t get angry with the victims, but I can’t help it. Lot of Koreans just take personal safety for granted thinking nothing bad will happen to them. They’re like naive gentle sheeps, who don’t know anything, and you can see how they become easy willing victims.

    • crxrunn

      bad troll go back to your cave

  • elizabeth

    It is sad that people died. Sadder is the fact that this is completely preventable with a little more personal responsibility. But the saddest part is that an innocent person killed himself for nothing. Nothing because it would not bring the dead back to life and the accident is not his fault.

    This is a disturbing observation from Korean tragedies – the innocent kill themselves while guilty run away. Are these indirect consequences of the anti- ‘victim-blaming’ mindset? When someone gets hurt, they are always victims and someone else will have to pay for it regardless of the root cause. Unfortunately, the guilty ones almost always escape and the innocent lose their lives when it is not their fault.

    The manager reminds me of the educator who killed himself and the divers who died in the Sewol incident. Something is definitely wrong somewhere.

    May they rest in peace.

    • commander

      The big problem in contemporary society is that the poor is exploited badly by some powerful people and firms who have no hesitation to cut corners for more lucrative deals, part of which go to the establishment which looks the other way when improprieties are being done.

      The bigger problem is that some disadvantaged people who are subjected to exploitation often commit wrongful offenses against other marginalized people, a vicious circle that I find to be horrible.

  • commander

    When our traumatized collective mentality from the Sewol ferry incident has yet to heal itself, the collapse of a ventilation grate on which some spectaculars fell into the subway ventilation shaft has exposed the chronic problem of public safety: no safety guidelines for subway ventilation grates, and scant attention of some people to safety, failure of public officials who existed on documents that were submitted for approval of the concert where the incident happened, to tell on-lookers to come down from the grate.

    First of all, the primary blame should go to the city government, which is required to make sure a public event requiring its authorization proceeds safely, with adequate regulations on installations around the event, and public officials deployment to monitor all things for safety are prepared.

    But there is no proper oversight of the concert, and public safety officials turned out to exist on documents. The funny thing is that even those officials mentioned on the documents as safety monitoring officials during the concert don’t know what they should have been dispatched to where the concert was held from the beginning because they were not notified of their duty in the first place.

    Second, even if all safety measures are in place for public events, we can’t rest assured that those safety rules sufficiently and definitely protect our health and lives.

    The world is not perfect, and human being are not perfect, so some mishaps always happen in this world. This means that one’s safety should be ensured by oneself, not expecting someone else or rules, and laws to protect us.

    Of course, this doesn’t mean that we can’t criticize public institutions who are in charge of monitoring compliance of firms with public safety rules, municipal governments who are expected to enact proper those kinds of rules, and the central government who oversees the overall operation of municipalities for public safety.

    This grate collapse incident is characterized as failures of all responsible involved.

    Innocent deaths should serve as a precious lesson for us, and central and local governments that an era of prioritizing achievements at the expense of compliance of safety procedures is gone, and that we need to go to the basics.

    • Chucky3176

      Wow… you came away with all that when all this is, is about personal responsibility and common sense?

      They themselves climbed up on top of that thing, nobody forced them to do it, and it was totally unnecessary. You can’t legislate common sense. What are you going to do now, put millions of off limits signs over all the vent covers in the country? Not just vent covers, how are you going to predict the stupidity of the people?

      • commander

        You misunderstood the gist of my comment.

        Blame for the ventilation grate collapse should be divided among concert-sponsors, the city government, and those who stands on the grate.

        Though the victims are adults, who are supposed to make sensible judgement like refraining from standing on the shaky installation, like the grate, just for a better view of K-pop singers, we can imagine that teenage youngsters could have stood on the grate.

        If a warning sign had been attached to the grate or safety guards cautioning them to get it off had been there, unnecessary casualties could have been prevented.

        But they were adults, who should remain cautious in making a decision. Thus they have themselves to blame for the mishap to a degree, if not entirely.

        • MeiDaxia

          There are signs that say “Don’t walk/climb on the grates.” It’s like the story of this rollercoaster enthusiast who died at an amusement park near my hometown. She willfully loosened her safety bar, and when the coaster hit a curve she was thrown to her death. Her relatives blamed the park. Barring security officers standing around to parent EVERY SINGLE PERSON, people will still do stupid things. That doesn’t mean they are stupid people though,just human.

          • commander

            You put too much blame on victims for what you appear to see as their fault.

            Frenzied atmosphere at the concert may have unwittingly taken them onto what otherwise they would have come down from.

            And if there is an sign attached to the grate, it is not easy to find it among crowded spectaculars for the concert, be they adults or youth.

            Some safety guards are needed when a certain size of pubic event is held.

          • pooperscooper

            At the end of the day, why would you need a sign to tell you not to climb upon a damn air vent?

            Once again, it’s the victims’ faults. Yes, it’s unfortunate that they had to pass away like that (and I give their families condolences), but people told them to get down and they still didn’t get down. Apparently, the people urging them to get down didn’t need a sign to know that climb on an air vent is not a good thing to do.

  • 금정산

    When I first heard about this news, I imagined high school students suffering a terrible fate. But now I am surprised to read the age of the victims. They were old enough to know better – especially after being told it was dangerous.

    … Or perhaps it was a younger person who told them it was dangerous. Some of you will get what I mean.

  • jonny

    I guess those were teenagers who stood on the ventilation grate. when you’re young you think you’re invincible. nothing bad will ever happen to you.

  • bultak23

    Could this be an example of negligence and poor construction? I don’t know but I know I am sure you would feel differently if it was one of your relatives that was killed or injured.

    • rael

      Ventilation grates are not designed to be stood or walked on in the first place. They are normally closed off with guard rails, raised or have signs saying not to stand on them in korea. They are easy to find in urban areas and its just common sense not to go anywhere near them. I don’t want to blame the victim’s for their deaths and its a shame but 20 or so people huddling together on to a ventilation grate to see a girl group? What were these people thinking? Obviously not.

  • rael

    Ventilation grates are not designed to be stood or walked on in korea. They are normally closed off with guard rails, raised or have signs saying not to stand on them. They are easy to find in urban areas and its just common sense not to go anywhere near them. I don’t want to blame the victim’s for their deaths and its a shame but 20 or so people huddling together on to a ventilation grate to see a girl group? What were these people thinking? Obviously not.

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