A concert gone wrong, some healing hands, a violent lifeFeb. 17, 1992
It started as a joyous day for teenage girls all over the peninsula ― New Kids on the Block, the hottest boy band of the late 1980s and early 1990s, had come to Seoul on this date for a live concert. That joy, however, soon turned to tears, as tragedy struck.
The Seoul Olympic Gymnastics Stadium was packed with more than 15,000 screaming teenage fans, all hungry to see the five-member pop group. The show started at 7:30 p.m., but about 20 minutes in, things began to go terribly wrong.
Excited fans rushed the stage. People fell and were trampled. Chaos reigned, forcing the concert to be suspended and requiring more than 2,200 police officers to bring the crowd under control. More than 200 were injured, and 16 were hospitalized. Park Jeong-yun, an 18-year-old high school student, lapsed into a coma and died 32 hours later.
Despite the pandemonium, the promoter restarted the concert at 11:30 p.m., and the boy band performed their hits for an hour.
Feb. 19, 1885
The first Westernized hospital in Korea, Gwanghyewon, or Widespread Relief House, was established on this date. King Gojong of the Joseon Dynasty placed Horace Newton Allen, an American missionary and medical doctor, in charge. Dr. Allen, who came to Korea in September 1884, had successfully treated a relative of the king who had been stabbed during an uprising. After that, Dr. Allen was a favorite of the king’s, and became the royal physician. Dr. Allen suggested the king build a modern hospital, and Widespread Relief House was born. The hospital is today’s Severance Hospital at Yonsei University.
Feb. 20, 1968
For Kim Hee-ro, born in 1928, life as a Japanese of Korean descent was never easy. His father died when Hee-ro was 3, leaving his mother to make a living collecting rags. She remarried, but his stepfather was cruel, so he ran away. One day he was so hungry that he stole some food and was imprisoned. But the hardest part, he said, was the discrimination he faced for his Korean ancestry.
By 40, his marriage and business had failed, and he was in big financial trouble.
On this date, two gangsters in Japan contracted by his creditor, pressed him for payment, saying, “You Korean-Japanese, dirty pig.” Enraged, Mr. Kim picked up a rifle and killed them both.
He then fled to Shizuoka, a resort town in central Japan, with dynamite and guns and took 13 people hostage at an inn. The standoff with police lasted 88 hours, and was broadcast live to televisions throughout Japan.
He was sentenced to life in prison, and was finally released after 31 years. Considered a hero in Korea, Mr. Kim moved here. In 2000, he was arrested again, in Busan, for attempted murder -- Mr. Kim had been having affair with a married woman, and wanted to kill her husband and run away with her. He’s back in jail.
by Chun Su-jin