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South Korea staff puts AP ahead with rapid response, sharp coverage of Halloween crowd tragedy

Injured people are treated on the street in the Itaewon district of Seoul, South Korea, early Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022. More than 150 people died after being crushed in a large crowd pushing forward on a narrow street during Halloween festivities attended by tens of thousands in the capital. (AP Photo / Lee Jin-man)

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When word broke Saturday night that a crushing crowd surge had killed dozens in a Seoul nightlife district where tens of thousands were attending a Halloween celebration, an all-formats AP team responded urgently to one of the nation’s worst disasters. More than 150 people died.

Speed and depth of coverage won the day,as AP beat rival agencies and even Korean media with live video,news alerts, photos and sourced video.

Photographer Jin-man Lee was the first to secure a crucial overhead position at the scene. In the streets of Itaewon below,people performed CPR on the dying and carted bodies to ambulances.

Video journalist Yong-ho Kim beat a major AP competitor to the neighborhood,where he and fellow video journalist Yong Jun Chang set up series of live shots providing first video. Senior producer Jung Yoon Kim,working on no sleep, eventually handled about two dozen video edits as well as the live streams.

As the scale of tragedy grew,text staff,including reporters Hyung-jin Kim and Tong-hyung Kim,were also ahead of Korean and international agencies with a series of alerts on the soaring death toll.

Meanwhile,staffers across Asia and in London sought out user-generated video and photos. Seoul office manager Jee-won Jeong and entertainment correspondent Juwon Park pitched in with reporting, along with Southeast Asia News Director Kiko Rosario in Bangkok.

Local South Korean media took note of AP’s coverage,which sought to explain not only what happened, but how and why. The reporting explored why two-thirds of the victims were young women, the multicultural flavor of the Itaewon neighborhood where the tragedy unfolded, criticism over how a nation that sends thousands of police to deal with protests could have failed to protect young revelers, and the horrifying minutes thousands spent in the crush of people.

The impressive work played heavily in global media. In the U.S. alone,the Los Angeles Times,which covers the biggest Korean-American community in the U.S.,led with a photo by Seoul chief photographer Young-joon Ahn; CNN also used multiple AP photos,while video picked up by AP led the The New York Times home page.

For fast,comprehensive breaking news coverage in all formats,the team of Hyung-jin Kim,Tong-hyung Kim,Jung Yoon Kim,Yong-ho Kim,Yong Jun Chang, Young-joon Ahn and Jin-man Lee earns AP’s Best of the Week — Second Winner honors.

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