SEOUL, April 16 (Yonhap) -- The painful lessons learned from a ferry disaster six years ago undergird South Korea's resolve and ability to overcome the ongoing crisis caused by the new coronavirus, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said Thursday.
He made the remark in a Facebook post marking the sixth anniversary of the sinking of the Sewol ferry in 2014, which killed more than 300 people, mostly high school students on a field trip.
"The past six years have been a painful time for everyone, but during the time, society has learned to give more weight to safety and life and we have become more deeply considerate toward our neighbors," he said.
"The time of maturity has now become a strong driving force to overcome a national crisis caused by the new coronavirus infections," he added.
The 6,800-ton Sewol ferry sank off the country's western coast near Jindo Island on April 16, 2014. A total of 299 passengers were killed, and five are still unaccounted for.
The spirit of sacrifice during the accident has led to the people's devotion to save lives and defeat the viral disease, and Koreans are now practicing the lessons of humility and restraint with regard to life that they learned from the disaster, he said.
"We failed to save them then, but thanks to them, we are being protected," he said.
Chung indicated the government will continue with efforts to find the truth behind the sinking of the ferry and botched rescue of the victims.
He also promised to push ahead with projects to build a public park and a mental health center in commemoration of the incident.
Korean actor Lee Sun-kyun nominated for best actor at Int'l Emmys for "Dr. Brain"
(LEAD) No Korean victims reported from Indonesian stadium tragedy: foreign ministry
State auditor notifies ex-Pres Moon of written investigation over death of fisheries official
Yoon's approval rating drops after hot mic incident: poll
Unification minister says N. Korea trying to tame S. Korean government, grab U.S. attention