Saturday 10 December 2016

One year on: Tears and anger as relatives mourn 300 victims of South Korean ferry tragedy

Press Association

Published 16/04/2015 | 08:17

Relatives of victims of the Sewol ferry disaster react as they throw flowers to pay tribute to the victims of the 16 April 2014 sinking, at sea off Jindo Island, in the southwestern province of South Jeolla, 15 April 2015. REUTERS/Jeon Heon-Kyun/Pool
Relatives of victims of the Sewol ferry disaster react as they throw flowers to pay tribute to the victims of the 16 April 2014 sinking, at sea off Jindo Island, in the southwestern province of South Jeolla, 15 April 2015. REUTERS/Jeon Heon-Kyun/Pool
Relatives of victims of the Sewol ferry disaster stand on the deck of a boat during a visit to the site of the sunken ferry off the coast near the Jindo Island southwestern province of South Jeolla, 15 April 2015. REUTERS/Jeon Heon-Kyun/Pool
Family members of victims of the sinking of the ferry Sewol toss flowers and pray as they visit the site where the ferry sank off Jindo, South Korea on the eve of the first anniversary of the disaster, Wednesday, April 15, 2015. (Jeon Heon-Kyun/Pool Photo via AP)
Relatives of victims of the sinking of the ferry Sewol weep as they stand on the deck of a boat during a visit to the site where the ferry sank off the coast of South Korea's southern island of Jindo Wednesday, April 15, 2015. (Ed Jones/Pool Photo via AP)
A relative of a victim of the ferry Sewol disaster holds a flower as he looks out at the water during a visit to the site of the sunken ferry, off the coast of South Korea's southern island of Jindo, Wednesday, April 15, 2015. (Ed Jones/Pool Photo via AP)
A relative of victims of the sinking of the ferry Sewol weeps as she and others stand on the deck of a boat during a visit to the site where the ferry sank off the coast of South Korea's southern island of Jindo Wednesday, April 15, 2015. (Ed Jones/Pool Photo via AP)
Relatives of victims of the sinking of the ferry Sewol weep as they stand on the deck of a boat during a visit to the site where the ferry sank off the coast of South Korea's southern island of Jindo Wednesday, April 15, 2015. (Ed Jones/Pool Photo via AP)
A relative of a victim of the Sewol ferry disaster sits on the deck of a boat during a visit to the site of the sunken ferry, off the coast of South Korea's southern island of Jindo April 15, 2015. REUTERS / POOL / Ed Jones
South Korean President Park Geun-hye, bottom center, arrives to offer her condolences to the bereaved relatives of the victims of the sinking of the ferry Sewol at a port in Jindo, South Korea, Thursday, April 16, 2015. (Park Chul-hong/Yonhap via AP ) KOREA OUT
A woman wipes her tears outside a group memorial altar for the victims of the sunken ferry Sewol, in Ansan, South Korea, Thursday, April 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
South Korean President Park Geun-hye speaks during her visit to a port in Jindo on the occasion of the first anniversary of the ferry disaster that killed more than 300 passengers, April 16, 2015. REUTERS/News1
South Korean President Park Geun-hye (C) speaks during her visit to a port in Jindo on the occasion of the first anniversary of the ferry disaster that killed more than 300 passengers, April 16, 2015. REUTERS/News1
South Korean President Park Geun-hye (3rd L) visits a port in Jindo during the first anniversary of the ferry disaster that killed more than 300 passengers, April 16, 2015. REUTERS/Yonhap
South Korean President Park Geun-hye (2nd R) visits a port in Jindo during the first anniversary of the ferry disaster that killed more than 300 passengers, April 16, 2015. REUTERS/Yonhap
South Korean President Park Geun-hye, front right, looks at foods and beverages dedicated for the victims of the sunken ferry Sewol as she arrives to offer her condolences to the bereaved relatives of the victims at a port in Jindo, South Korea, Thursday, April 16, 2015. (Lee Jeong-ryong/Yonhap via AP)
A mourner holding a flower stands in a line at the official memorial altar for the victims of the ferry disaster that killed more than 300 passengers on the occasion of the first anniversary, in Ansan April 16, 2015. The banner reads "Salvage the sunken ferry Sewol". REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
Mourners stand in a line at the official memorial altar for the victims of the ferry disaster that killed more than 300 passengers on the occasion of the first anniversary, in Ansan April 16, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
Students holding umbrellas visit the official memorial altar for the victims of the ferry disaster that killed more than 300 passengers on the occasion of the first anniversary, in Ansan April 16, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
South Korean President Park Geun-hye's name (bottom C) is seen on a chair as politicians take their seats, before a memorial ceremony at the official memorial altar for the victims in Ansan, on the occasion of the first anniversary of the ferry disaster that killed more than 300 passengers, April 16, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
South Korean President Park Geun-hye's name (bottom C) is seen on a chair, before a memorial ceremony at the official memorial altar for the victims in Ansan, on the occasion of the first anniversary of the ferry disaster that killed more than 300 passengers, April 16, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
A mourner waits for a memorial ceremony at the official memorial altar for the victims in Ansan on the occasion of the first anniversary of the ferry disaster that killed more than 300 passengers, April 16, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
A journalist prepares for a report as mourners stand in a line at the official memorial altar for the victims in Ansan on the occasion of the first anniversary of the ferry disaster that killed more than 300 passengers, April 16, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
A mourner looks at pictures of victims from the sunken ferry Sewol at the official memorial altar for the victims in Ansan on the occasion of the first anniversary of the ferry disaster that killed more than 300 passengers, April 16, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
A man talks on the phone in front of a giant banner bearing the names of victims onboard sunken ferry Sewol at the official memorial altar for the victims, on the occasion of the first anniversary of the ferry disaster that killed more than 300 passengers, in Ansan April 16, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

Tears and grief mixed with anger as relatives mourned the 300 people, mostly schoolchildren, killed a year ago when the ferry Sewol sank in cold waters off the South Korean coast.

  • Go To

In contrast to the near universal shock and outrage in the weeks following the sinking, the first anniversary of one of the nation's worst disasters saw more complicated emotions.

There is widespread frustration among many South Koreans who see their government as having failed to improve safety standards and hold high-level officials accountable for a disaster blamed in part on incompetence and corruption.

Some also express fatigue with the continuing focus on the sinking.

Hours before she was to leave on a diplomatic trip to Colombia, South Korean president Park Geun-hye visited a small port on an island near the site of the sinking to offer her condolences to the bereaved relatives.

However, the relatives refused to meet her in a protest against the government's handling of the sinking.

Flags in public buildings were lowered to half-mast and a minute's silence was observed in Ansan, the city that lost nearly an entire class of students on a field trip to a southern resort island.

A total of 304 people died when the ferry Sewol sank.

The city was expecting thousands of visitors at an afternoon memorial service at its mourning site, where Prime Minister Lee Wan Koo visited in the morning, only to be turned back by angry relatives.

Relatives of the victims threatened to cancel the service if the government did not announce firm plans to salvage the ship and promise a new investigation into the cause of the sinking, according to Pil Kyu Hwang, a lawyer representing the families.

The estimated cost of raising the ferry is between 91 million US dollars (£61 million) and 137 million US dollars ((92.3 million), and it could take as long as 18 months.

Many relatives gathered in Ansan. Some wept and touched pictures of their lost loved ones as they recalled helplessly watching on television as the ferry slowly sank into the sea.

Hundreds also gathered at Paengmok Port hours before Ms Park's visit. Dressed in black, they walked to a lighthouse where hundreds of yellow ribbons were tied to handrails in memory of the victims.

A candle light vigil was planned in central Seoul, where relatives of the victims have been holding protests for months.

Also today, South Korean politicians adopted a resolution urging the government to salvage the ferry.

Online Editors

Read More

Promoted articles

Editors Choice

Also in World News