Singer and actor Lee Jihan has been confirmed as one of the victims of the crowd crush in Itaewon, Seoul.

Lee Jihan first found fame on South Korean reality show Produce 101, where 101 K-Pop hopefuls competed to win in a boy band and went on to star in the High School drama Today Was Another Nam Hyun Day.

K-Pop star and actor Lee Jihan has been confirmed as one of the victims of the Seoul Halloween stampede that has killed over 150 people.

Jihan, 24, found fame on a South Korean singing competition, before successfully moving into to acting.

The two agencies representing the star – 935 Entertainment and 9Auto Entertainment – confirmed the news on Sunday.

The representative of the agency continued: “We also hoped that it wasn’t true, and we were very shocked to hear the news.”

Asking public to respect the family’s privacy in this period of mourning, the agency added: “The family is suffering immense grief right now, so we are being very cautious. May he rest in peace.”

The news of Lee Jihan’s passing first reached the public when several of his ‘Produce 101’ castmates, Park Heeseok, Jo Jinhyung and Kim Dohyun, paid tribute on social media. They wrote on Instagram” “Ji Han has left this world and gone to a comfortable place. We ask that you say goodbye to him on his final path.”

Lee Jihan first entered the spotlight as a contestant on Mnet’s ‘Produce 101’ season 2 in 2017. He originally auditioned on the show with a cover of EXO’s “Overdose” and was eliminated in the fifth episode.

Lee Jihan went on to make his debut as an actor on the web drama ‘Today Was Another Nam Hyun Day’ in 2019. He was 24 years old (by international reckoning) at the time of his passing. His mortuary will be set up at the funeral hall of Myongji Hospital, and the funeral will be held on November 1.

Lee Jihan was one of 154 people killed in the stampede, which occurred on Saturday in Itaewon, a busy nightlife district in the capital city. Thousands of people assembled in the narrow streets of the district to celebrate Halloween festivities when the crowd size became overwhelming, leading to panic and an eventual fatal crowd surge.

Over 80 people were reported injured and thousands of missing person reports were filed in the days since the tragedy. The Korean government has announced a period of national mourning that will last until November 5. Several K-pop music releases and events have been cancelled or postponed in the wake of the tragedy.

Posting a black square on Instagram, they wrote in their statement that they were “heartbroken to be greeted with sad news” of his death and told fans Jihan “has become a star in the sky and left us”.

Expressing their “heartfelt condolences” to his family and all those who loved him, they called him “a sweet and warm friend to all”.

They also wrote about his “bright smile” and paid tribute to his “passion for acting”, wishing him well for his “last journey”.

Jihan found fame on South Korean reality show Produce 101 back in 2017, where 101 K-pop hopefuls competed to win a place in an 11-member boy band.

Despite not being picked to be part of the final band – Wanna One – Jihan used the platform to move onto acting, starring in the South Korean high-school drama Today Was Another Nam Hyun Day.

Former Produce 101 contestants Park Heeseok, Kim Do-hyun and Cho Jin Hyung also paid tribute. They wrote in a joint statement: “Ji Han has left this world and gone to a comfortable place. We ask that you say goodbye to him on his final path.”

Other party-goers caught up in the crush, have described the “slow and agonising” horror as the disaster unfolded, with people unable to move or breathe when a large crowd pushed down a narrow street.

One witness, Nathan Taverniti, from Sydney, Australia, described the horror of watching his friend die in a now deleted TikTok video.

Mr Taverniti said: “I was there when she said she couldn’t breathe. We were yelling… ‘You have to go back, you have to turn around’… but nobody was listening.”

He described the situation not as a stampede, but as a “slow and agonising” crush. Two of his other friends were also injured.

In his video, which was viewed over nine million times, Mr Taverniti tearfully continued: “I watched as people filmed, and sang and laughed while my friends were dying, along with many other people.

“You know how many people were going to that event. Why were you not prepared?”

It’s been confirmed that at least 26 foreign nationals have been killed in the tragedy, from countries including America, Australia, Iran, Uzbekistan, China and Norway.

Numerous K-Pop music releases and events – many themed around Halloween – have been cancelled or postponed following the tragedy.

Two events with BTS member Kim Seok-jin scheduled for 30 and 31 October have been put on hold, and the 2022 Busan One Asia Festival concert featuring multiple South Korean singing stars, which had been due to take place on 30 October, has now been cancelled.

By Vikram

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