Japanese woman killed in S. Korea stampede was studying in Seoul

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A photo of Mei Tomikawa from her Facebook page

Mei Tomikawa, a 26-year-old Japanese woman said to have died in a crowd crush in Itaewon, Seoul, had been studying in the South Korea capital since June.

“She was a person who took on many challenges,” her father, Ayumu, said Sunday night. “I’m devastated.”

Ayumu, 60, told The Yomiuri Shimbun he had learned of the tragedy on the news that morning.

He recounted how he tried to call Mei’s smartphone, but it was answered by a South Korean police officer who explained he had found the phone near the site of the incident. He prayed for his daughter’s safety throughout the day, but in the evening was contacted by the Japanese Foreign Affairs Ministry, informing him Mei had been identified as a victim.

Mei, who hailed from Nemuro, Hokkaido, graduated from a prefectural high school in the city and then attended a vocational school in Sapporo to learn about the wedding industry, her father said. Before relocating to South Korea, she had worked in Tokyo as a web designer and an accessory designer.

Ayumu and Mei were in frequent contact with each other, exchanging messages and photos via a social media app. On Saturday Mei had told her father she was going to visit the popular Itaewon district with her classmates.

“She was working so hard far from home, and she had my full support,” Ayumu said.