I’m pretty sure, most of us don’t know about what I’m writing today. Yes, it’s the Sewol Ferry Tragedy. And I wanted to make more people aware of this heart-breaking incident.
The Sewol ferry tragedy as according to The New York Times in “Ferry Disaster in South Korea: A Year Later”, refers to the incident regarding the Sewol ferry which left Incheon for Jeju Island with a total of 476 passengers and crew, 325 of which were high school students on a school trip. The incident occurred the next morning on April 16 near Jindo as the ship began to tilt at dangerous angles and multiple distress calls were made. I would have never known about this if it wasn’t for the Spring Day song I listened to which was by BTS. You can look up the theory behind the MV (just like I did, or I’ll leave some links below).
And today, it’s been exactly 7 years to this incident. In total 304 lives, most of which were of high school students, were lost in the tragedy. And, trust me, it’s hard losing a loved one.
So at around 8:56 am in the morning, announcements were made telling the young teenagers to hold on to available support/pillars and stay calm and stand by. The students were terrified obviously, and started to text their parents saying “Mom, I love you.” or “The ferry is sinking, love you.” And there are more messages which break my heart.
At 9:25 am, the captain was told to make a decision and a patrol boat arrived at around 9:35 am as it was the only commanding rescue boat which maintained communication with the Coast Guard HQ. The patrol boat declared that they couldn’t see any students or people at the deck or in the water, meanwhile students inside all wore life jackets and were trying their best not to panic.
The captain rescued himself at 9:47am, and this still disgusts me as there were helpless teenagers in the boat, they were supposed to be the first priority and not the captain. What disgusts me further is that instead of trying to intensify the rescue operation, the government agencies kept asking for a camera to be placed somewhere for internal reporting. “It was a gruelling escape, without any help” a survivor quoted.
10:35 am, a recorded call between the AIR RESCUE SERVICE and WEST SEA COAST GUARD when only the tip of the ferry was above the water, said “We should have landed on the ship earlier and made a good scene. We should have shown our agents rescuing the passengers.” Like there are people dying and all they care about is making a scene? Like I can’t even-
In the recorded call the AIR RESCUE SERVICE asked “So, there are no more students in the ship?” and the WEST COAST GUARD said “Yes, no more students,” when nearly half the students were inside, and only the top of the ferry was above the water. I can’t with their audacity-
President Park Guen-Hye, who was in her bed for the whole day emerged at the END OF THE DAY. The following day, a group of civilian divers came up to help to rescue any of the 291 passengers who were still trapped in the ship. The diver was told to rush in his job because the President was watching, he had been told to at least try and pretend since the President was watching, at this point, I don’t even know what to say-
Over the next 3 months, the divers worked, trying to search for any bodies or belongings of the victims. The civilian divers weren’t skilled enough, yet they dedicated themselves. They dived upto 4-5 times each day.
Over the next year, the families of the victims and civilian divers worked together to call for the government to investigate the mishandling of the rescue. An investigation revealed that the government knew these facts from the start, but concealed them from the public.
There were protests, riots and so many other things going on, asking President Park to resign or the rescue operation to be solved, and this fact just makes me feel so sad that all those who came forward were told to keep quiet.
But the nostalgic, longing tone of BTS’s “Spring Day” subtly helped keep the memory of the disaster alive in the minds of young Koreans and the media in the years after the tragedy. And every ARMY has a special place in their heart for Spring Day, because behind every sad song, there is a story.
President Park was expelled from the office and later convicted for corruption charges, the captain went to jail for the rest of his life for corruption charges as well.
31 March 2017 – The Ferry was removed out of the water. And once more, the parents WEREN’T even allowed to be near the ferry, where their children had once been, and had passed away. Everyone was locked outside, and the parents of the victims were furious shouting things like “We have been waiting for this moment since 3 years! Why lock us out like this?!” and “My kids died waiting, open this gate!” and it hurts to see them like this.
Hundreds of mobile phones, belongings and other things were recovered which were useful as part of the investigation and valuable to the parents of the victims.
A diver said he had trouble sleeping for 18 months after he left the scene on 12th of July…and one of the divers killed himself after 2 years of the incident because he just couldn’t handle the pain, I mean it hurts to see so many dead bodies at once. I pity them so much-
“When we left the scene, there were small birds in the rain and wind. Those tiny birds, were flying around in the storm. And the birds were so tiny and beautiful, and their call so touching…but it sounded like the students wailing, asking me not to leave them behind.”
There’s actually a lot more I wanted to add, but I feel this is getting extremely long, so I’ll leave some links to documentaries and information-
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uT9m08FxYVg – Meeting a survivor of the Sewol Ferry Tragedy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_A8dq2fA5o – Documentary on the Sewol Ferry Tragedy (most of my information was from here)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEeFrLSkMm8 – Spring Day, BTS. If you scroll enough, you find some theories with time stamps.