KOREA: Death in the Crowd

The clock in Seoul's dim, drafty railroad station showed 10:55 p.m. last week as some 3,800 holiday travelers waited restlessly for the last train to Mokpo in southwest Korea. The train was already five minutes late because the railroad, under the press of crowds leaving Seoul for the Lunar New Year celebrations, had sold 2,300 more tickets than the 18-coach train could carry. At that moment on Track 3 underneath the waiting room, the engineer of the Mokpo train blew a long whistle blast to signal switch crews to add more coaches.

Impatient passengers upstairs mistook the whistle for the last...

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