Families, friends mourn loved ones cut down in prime in deadly car crash

Posted on : 2024-07-03 17:27 KST Modified on : 2024-07-03 17:27 KST
One victim of Monday night’s crash in Seoul had just been awarded two prizes by their employer that day, while others appeared to have been out celebrating promotions and transfers
A funeral portrait sits at an altar for Kim In-byeong, one of the victims killed when a car plowed through pedestrians near Seoul City Hall earlier this week, at the National Medical Center’s funeral hall on July 2, 2024. (Cho Seung-woo/Hankyoreh)
A funeral portrait sits at an altar for Kim In-byeong, one of the victims killed when a car plowed through pedestrians near Seoul City Hall earlier this week, at the National Medical Center’s funeral hall on July 2, 2024. (Cho Seung-woo/Hankyoreh)

“Despite his physical issues, my brother lived a full life, and we were so proud of him.”

It all happened in an instant. On Monday night, 67-year-old Kim Yun-byeong lost his younger brother In-byeong, 52, when a car suddenly veered onto the sidewalk at an intersection in front of Seoul City Hall. When he spoke to the Hankyoreh on Tuesday, the older brother said he still could not believe the accident the night before had really happened.

As a middle school student, Kim In-byeong suffered a hit-and-run accident that cost him an eye and left his arm maimed. Despite this adversity, he went on to successfully pass the examination for Seoul city employees, paying his own way through his education.

Dedicated to his job to the point of a workaholic, Kim often worked late into the night. Indeed, he had just finished having another late dinner after work when tragedy struck on Monday night.

Kim’s older brothers appeared dazed as they sat in the funeral hall of the National Medical Center, where his wake was being held. They wept as they looked at a photograph of their brother from an appearance on the TV news — an image they often carried around out of pride.

The accident came on what had been a great day for Kim In-byeong, who was employed with Seoul City Hall’s general affairs department. He had won two prizes awarded by his employer that day. 

The team he led was named “best team” for their efforts in relocating a memorial for the Itaewon crowd crush tragedy to the “House of Stars remembrance and communication space for the October 2022 Itaewon tragedy.” The same afternoon, he won another award for the successful establishment of an outdoor library on Seoul Plaza.

Kim’s family kept screenshots of Kim’s appearance on a news program. Here, he appeared in relation to a crackdown on tax evasion in the city. (courtesy of Kim’s family)
Kim’s family kept screenshots of Kim’s appearance on a news program. Here, he appeared in relation to a crackdown on tax evasion in the city. (courtesy of Kim’s family)

“When I talked to him on the phone last weekend, he told me, ‘I’m working for the city of Seoul,’” recalled a 52-year-old former high school classmate surnamed Kwon. “He was just an honest worker who didn’t care about coming in on weekends.”

Kim Seong-taek, an administrative official for the city who worked in Kim’s department, said, “I keep thinking back to how we used to laugh and cry over the occasional after-dinner beer.”

“It’s devastating,” he said.

Another victim of the accident was an employee of Seoul City Hall’s corporate tax affairs department with a promising record and prospects for a promotion in the near future.

Colleagues visiting the funeral hall at Severance Hospital in Seoul’s Sinchon neighborhood on Wednesday remembered him as “someone intelligent enough to oversee all the budget calculations for the city of Seoul” and “someone who always smiled and never complained about things being tough.”

At the wake, his mother cried out his name, which rang through the hall as his father stared into space.

Most of the victims were employees of businesses and institutions in the area. The list included four bank employees, two City Hall employees, and three employees at a hospital service company.

The bank employees appear to have been out drinking to celebrate promotions and transfers when the crash occurred. The owner of the pub they had visited told the Hankyoreh, “We still have the flowers they brought with them when they visited.”

Three of the four bank employees’ remains were being kept temporarily at the funeral hall of Seoul’s Yeongdeungpo Hospital.

“He was so kind and diligent and good at everything,” said an aunt and uncle who heard about their nephew’s death.

“He even lived with us for a few years,” they added before trailing off.

The night before, another visitor scrambled out of a taxi in front of the funeral hall before slumping to the ground.

“Dad, please no. Tell me it’s not him,” they cried out.

Wakes for the bank employees were held at the Seoul National University funeral hall on Tuesday afternoon.

By Shim Woo-sam, staff reporter; Yoon Yeon-jeong, staff reporter; Kim Chae-woon, staff reporter; Jang Soo-kyung, staff reporter

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

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