On the morning of April 16, 2014, the MV Sewol, a passenger ferry bound for Jeju Island, suddenly swerved and capsized. On board were 476 passengers; many were second-year students from Danwon High school on a field trip.
During the incident, 304 passengers and crew members died.
In the days and years following the tragedy, there was a huge reaction from the people of Korea who criticised the lax regulatory environment, the rescue response, and then President Park Geun-hye’s reaction.
During this period, the families of the victims were driven to the streets in an ongoing fight to attain justice for their loved ones. They held hunger strikes, occupied Gwanghwamun Plaza, marched towards the presidential Blue House, and travelled worldwide to spread their message.
This lead to the recovery of the remains of 299 of the victims. However, five still remain missing.
This has left a lot of people unsatisfied with what has been done.
▲ Protesting outside of City Hall. Photo courtesy Memory Reborn
One such person is Sewol survivor and founder of the remembrance space for the Sewol tragedy Hwang Yong-oon.
Each week, outside Jeju City Hall, he and a group of volunteers gather to distribute yellow ribbons and collect signatures to petition for further investigative action to uncover the truth behind the Sewol tragedy.
By collecting signatures and public support, the group seeks to continue the battle for justice and achieve some of their key goals in supporting the Sewol families.
These are to bring back the five missing victims to their families; to obtain a special law that guarantees a special investigation team with the power to investigate, question, and prosecute; and to secure permission for a special prosecutor investigation that includes the Blue House and NIS.
As Hwang Yong-oon articulates, Sewol families want “to find the truth surrounding the Sewol ferry tragedy and punish those who are responsible, and to create a safer society, where their heartache will not be repeated.”
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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