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S. Koreans mark 1,000 days since Sewol ferry sinking

All News 18:54 January 09, 2017

SEOUL, Jan. 9 (Yonhap) -- South Koreans on Monday paid tribute to the hundreds of people killed in a ferry sinking exactly 1,000 days ago, showing their grief through online messages, rituals and a variety of cultural performances nationwide.

The ferry Sewol capsized and sank off the southwestern coast of Jindo on April 16, 2014, leaving 304 people dead or missing. Most of the victims were high school students on a field trip to the southern island of Jeju.

The tragedy has come under renewed focus in recent months as the nation grapples with a political scandal that led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye last month. Critics have long argued more lives could have been saved had Park properly responded in the early hours of the sinking.

Her "bungled" response was cited as one of the reasons for her impeachment.

A South Korean artist performs a song at Paengmok Harbor on Jan. 9, 2017, to wish for the missing victims' return on the 1,000th day since the ferry Sewol sank. (Yonhap)

In Jindo, a local group demanding Park's resignation held a memorial event at the Paengmok Harbor close to the site of the sinking at 4:16 p.m. to coincide with the date of the disaster.

Nine yellow kites were flown in the sky to wish for the return of the nine people who remain unaccounted for. Participants also held a traditional rite with nine bowls of rice and various fruits, flowers and incense to pray for their return.

On a seawall covered with yellow ribbons, family members of the nine missing victims lit yellow candles in another mark of longing. Yellow is the symbolic color of the tragedy.

A performance of the "Dance of 1,000 Days" opened the main ceremony, followed by a rendition of a famous traditional Korean song about a blind father's search for his daughter.

Yellow umbrellas line the outside of the government complex in Sejong on Jan. 9, 2017, to mark 1,000 days since the sinking of the ferry Sewol. (Yonhap)

In the nearby metropolis of Gwangju, a civic group that has tasked itself with three years of mourning for the Sewol victims plans to hold a separate cultural event, where members will report on their activities of the past 1,000 days and invite other citizens to offer their thoughts.

Many netizens posted comments online.

On the portal site Naver, one user said, "We are sorry as adults, and I will pray that you may always run free there. I love you, children. And I am sorry."

Others offered words of encouragement to the bereaved families and called for a full disclosure of the truth behind the tragedy.

"The cause must be revealed and those responsible must be punished in order to ensure that something like this doesn't happen again," wrote one user of the portal site Daum.

A family member of a victim flies a kite at Paengmok Harbor on Jan. 9, 2017, wishing for his brother's return on the 1,000th day since the ferry Sewol sank. (Yonhap)


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