There is a lot to say, but too little words for the tragedy of the Sewol Ferry back in 2014. If you remember on today’s anniversary the Korean ferry named Sewol capsized on its way to Jeju Island / South Korea. I was in Korea at that time hearing the horrible news from my relatives at home first, and then watching local TV and news feed about the ferry – carrying mostly highschool students from Danwon High – sinking rapidly. Even though the Korean coast guards and fishing boats came to the rescue the 476 passengers and crew, only 172 survived. Most tragic fact: the high school students were told to stay put and wait for rescue on board and in their compartments while the ferry was flooded with water. Worse, the captain and most of the crew members abandoned the sinking ship while leaving the passengers behind – high school students (!!) – being the first to be rescued. The captain even disguised himself as a civilian to get off the ferry quickly. The first call for help wasn’t made by the crew either, but by a student (RIP Choi Dukha) aboard Sewol who sadly didn’t survive the disaster.
I remember feeling sick when I saw the news the following days about relatives – mostly parents – standing at the shore calling for their child to come home because it most be cold out in the sea, as over 200 were still missing. I turned off TV when the first video, audio and messenger material of the victims surfaced, showing high school students joking around, talking casually, sitting put and wondering if help was on its way while their fate was already decided and there was no way they could escape anymore. However, also heroes were born as civilians and few crew members (as Park Jiyoung, Jeong Hyunseon and Kim Kiwoong) gave their lives for rescuing others. The vice headmaster of Danwon High School who survived the tragedy hanged himself shortly after, feeling responsible for the death of his students as he organized the trip and being rescued while most of his students weren’t. The tragedy weighed even more severly as three important Korean holidays took place the following month: Children’s Day, Parent’s Day and Teacher’s Day – it couldn’t have been worse.
Of 304 victims 9 bodies still remain undiscovered until today. Please remember them – their lives, hopes and stories standing representatively for those of the other dead passengers – by reading the Stories of Nine Who Have Not Yet Returned and tweeting #Remember0416 and reposting the Yellow Ribbon of mourning.