04.16 + 2 years
Two years since the sinking of Sewol ferry
For brief information about the sinking of Sewol ferry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinking_of_MV_Sewol
Two years have passed since the sinking of Sewol ferry — one of the most devastating coast accident in South Korea in recent years.
Approximately 300 passengers, mostly teenage students have died in Sewol. Hundreds of families and survivors are still suffering for loss of their loved ones. Few days ago, one of the wide-known TV documentary series in Korea called “그것이 알고 싶다 (I / We want to know the truth)” released a special episode seeking truths about the Sewol ferry. Their message was short, but strong; If this ever happens again, would Korean government and our public services can save their citizens?
Back in April 16th 2014, me and my former colleagues at Nexon Computer Museum were busy preparing the events for Children’s day (May 5th). It was also my second spring in Jeju, and I was more than ready to enjoy warm spring weather and beautiful blossoms. Then someone in the office called out that there had been a coast accident. We didn’t took much care of it at first thought it might be yet another small fishing boat. About an hour later, during lunch time, we set down and watched news on internet — immediately we realized that it was much severe than we thought it would be. The number of victims were high and too young. Museum director called out a cancellation of entire events, saying that it is ‘not right time’ for it. It was a right call, as it turned out, but at first I was a bit skeptical about her decision thinking ‘after all what we have gone through preparing this event?.’ But as I came back home later that day and carefully went through almost every news article and videos I could find, I painfully realized how short minded I was. The sinking of Sewol ferry was not just an accident; it was a men-made disaster caused by the corruption on public services and coast security.
The sinking of Sewol ferry was a warning message, and it will happen again unless we clean up this corruption.
Few weeks ago in early April of 2016, I visited Gwang Hwa Moon district, located in the heart of Seoul, where they have a group memorial altar that were set up for the victims of Sewol ferry. There were photo of victims few years or few days before the accident — when they were happy and beloved. Together with the message from their families and friend that were set beside from the photos, it was the saddest and heart breaking moment I felt in very long time. And yet Korean government is still passive about releasing some of the crucial information about what exactly had happened during the disaster, and refusing to change the system that worsen the situation of the survivors and their families.
Many Korean believes in reincarnation — either by religion and/or by in culture. Two years ago, tens of thousands of people, including me, prayed for the victims on their journey ahead in next life. And maybe, just maybe, that our nation will become safer place to live when they steps into this world again. But nothing has changed so far despite it has been two whole years since the loss of Sewol ferry. Coast security is still very much corrupted, along with political anomie state of our nation — politicians and power-holders are distorting the disaster into ideological collision rather than resolving it as humanitarian relief.
Sewol(세월) means ‘many years’ in Korean. Not sure how many years will be enough to resolve this crisis, but hopefully soon. Until then, yellow ribbon, a symbol that represent remembering the victims of Sewol ferry will always be on our side.