Janelle Story, 35, told BuzzFeed News she was going on a bar crawl when she came across the crowds in the street. By 8:30 p.m., Story, an American who lives in Seoul, said the area was already full of people. “Even just getting out of the subway station was intimidating,” she said via Twitter messages early Sunday. “It took 20 minutes to exit the station.”
As she was moving from bar to bar near Hamilton Hotel, she said the crowds were packed tightly together, but nothing at that point seemed to be dangerous.
“Even though I was uncomfortable, no one was ‘out of control,'” she said. “We were all just moving very slowly and orderly.”
But then around 10:30 p.m., Story said she started to feel more panicked by the situation as she was capturing footage of the scene, which she posted to Twitter.
“Even in the video we’re just casually meandering our way and suddenly this wave of panic rushed us,” she said. “So I stopped filming because it got too scary.”
Story said she and her friends took cover in a nearby bar. They then tried to retrace their steps to head back to a different bar, but another person in the street told them to turn around because someone had passed out.
“We heard a few other people say ‘someone’s fainted’ or ‘someone’s passed out’ and in Korean I could hear people saying ‘go back’ or ‘turn around,'” she said. “But in that moment, and even when I posted the video, I really only thought maybe it was one or two people that got caught in the stampede? I had no idea the scale of it.”
As they left the area, Story said she saw ambulances, fire trucks, and police vehicles make their way toward the alley. “Even with all of that I still had no idea just how huge the tragedy would become,” she said.