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(LEAD) Star athletes pay tribute to victims of ferry sinking

All Headlines 15:57 April 18, 2014

(ATTN: CHANGES slug, headline, dateline; UPDATES throughout with reactions from more athletes)

DALLAS/SAN FRANCISCO/SEOUL, April 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korean athletes based at home and abroad paid tribute to the victims of a deadly boat accident in their native land on Friday,

With the death toll on the rise and hundreds of others still missing after the ferry Sewol capsized on Wednesday, two South Korean stars in Major League Baseball (MLB) offered much-needed distraction for a heartbroken nation with strong performances.

Ryu Hyun-jin of the Los Angeles Dodgers improved to 3-1 on the year thanks to seven shutout innings against the San Francisco Giants on the road on Thursday, local time. Before the game, the Dodgers' official Twitter account posted a picture of Ryu's locker with the sign "SEWOL 4.16.14," in tribute to the victims of the accident off South Korea's southern coast.

Ryu said after the game in San Francisco that he wanted to win one for people back home, and said it was an idea concocted by himself and his interpreter, Martin Kim, to put the message on his locker.

"There was a big accident in South Korea, and many people were greatly hurt by that," Ryu said. "I wanted to give them a little bit of strength by winning today."
<YNAPHOTO path='C:/YNA/YNACLI~1/Down/Article/AEN20140418002151315_01_i.jpg' id='' title='' caption='An image captured from the Los Angeles Dodgers&apos; Twitter page shows the message, "SEWOL 4.16.14" on South Korean pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin&apos;s locker in San Francisco on April, 17, 2014, in tribute to victims of the deadly boat accident in South Korea. (Yonhap)'/>

In Arlington, Texas, Choo Shin-soo of the Texas Rangers belted his first homer of the year, helping his club to an 8-6 victory over the Seattle Mariners.

Choo went 2-for-5, and is batting .293 with a .417 on-base percentage in his first season with the Rangers.

Choo said later he played the game with a heavy heart.

"As a parent, I was really devastated by the news of the Sewol's sinking," Choo said of the accident where most of the victims and the missing are high school students. He has two boys and a girl.

"I don't understand why we always try to fix problems after something bad has already happened," Choo added. "It's frustrating that we couldn't have been better prepared."

In Seoul, two star gymnasts expressed their condolences. Ahead of the Korea Cup competition starting on Saturday, Yang Hak-seon, the reigning Olympic champ in men's vault, said he had been following the news of the tragedy on television.

"It's very heartbreaking," he said. "I hope every missing person will be rescued."

Son Yeon-jae, a rhythmic gymnast, added, "It's very unfortunate that something so terrible has happened."

Lee Sang-hwa, a two-time Olympic speed skating champion, took to Twitter to send her prayers. She wrote, "I hope miracles will happen. Please."

South Korean golfers Park In-bee, Ryu So-yeon and Kim Hyo-joon, and Michelle Wie, a Korean-American born to Korean parents, wore black ribbons in tribute to the victims during the second round play of an LPGA tournament in Hawaii.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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