Heartbreaking stories of victims, missing passengers
Posted : 2017-03-23 17:03
Updated : 2017-03-23 19:40
The mother of a missing Danwon High School student speaks during a press conference held on Jindo, South Jeolla Province, Thursday, with two salvaging barrages at work behind her. / Yonhap
-Stories, memories of 9 victims unaccounted for--
By Lee Kyung-min
After the sunken ferry Sewol was raised from the sea after nearly three years, Thursday, so were the hopes of the bereaved families of nine victims whose bodies have yet to be recovered.
The sinking of the ferry in waters off the southwestern coast near Jindo on April 16, 2014, was the country's worst maritime disaster that left more than 300 people dead, mostly high school students on a school trip to Jeju Island.
The nine unrecovered victims are four students and two teachers from Danwon High School in Gyeonggi Province, a father and his son, and a woman.
Danwon student Huh Da-yoon, whose dream was to become a kindergarten teacher, was her mother's best friend and a sweetheart to her father, according to her parents.
Huh always made time for volunteer work at a kindergarten during vacation as she never considered caring for children work but a joy, according to her mother Park Eun-mi.
"A day before the trip to Jeju, Da-yoon asked for her father's black hat saying she liked it," Park said. "Everything was recovered including the hat, her clothes and her shoes, except for her body." Park lost the hearing in her right ear due to increased brain pressure brought on by stress following the sinking.
Another student Park Young-in was a boy with a bubbly personality always cheering up those around him, according to his family.
"Unlike most boys his age, he helped me with household chores and also had a great relationship with his father," his mother said.
Young-in, whose dream was to become a professional athlete, was a natural at playing sports. Shortly before the trip, he asked his mother to buy him a pair of soccer shoes but she couldn't. Since the accident, she bought a pair and went to Paengmok Port on Jindo, and sat there waiting. Only his bag was recovered with his training clothes in it.
Nam Hyun-chul, the only son of Nam Kyung-won and his wife, had a talent for music. He enjoyed playing guitar and writing songs. His parents left their son's guitar near Paengmok Port with the words, "Son, mom and dad will live with you for the rest of our lives," written on it.
Cho Eun-hwa, a straight-As student, was a sweet, caring daughter to her mother Lee Geum-hee. The girl loved to study, especially math, and wanted to be a public official specializing in accounting.
Lee said her daughter worried about what she considered an expensive 327,000 won ($291) trip was costing her family and said that she was sorry for causing a financial burden.
Cho always thought about her mother before herself, according to Lee, asking how she was doing, and always texting about even the smallest joys in everyday life to keep her from feeling lonely.
"I brought some barnacles from Paengmok Port and laid it on her desk in her room. I thought those were things that were closest to where my daughter was," Lee said.
Two teachers at the school Ko Chang-seok and Yang Seung-jin, aged 40 and 57, respectively, at the time of the sinking, were brave educators who sacrificed their lives to save their students.
Ko was a strong, healthy physical education teacher who had a marine rescue license, but even to him, saving students from the sinking Sewol ferry was too challenging a task.
Survived by his wife, a teacher at Danwon Middle School right next to his school, and two sons, Ko is remembered as an inspiring teacher, a loving husband and a generous father, according to his wife.
Yang, an ethics education leader and a social studies teacher, who had spent 30 years teaching, told the students to escape from the sinking ferry while he himself kept going back to save more. His wife, Yoo Baek-hyung, 56, said he was a warm, sweet man.
A family _ father Kwon Jae-geun and his wife, a Vietnamese woman naturalized as a Korean, Han Yoon-jin, their son Hyuk-kyu and daughter Ji-yeon _ was aboard the Sewol to start a new life on Jeju.
The daughter, Ji-yeon, now nine years old, is the only survivor from the accident with her mother's body recovered eight days after the sinking, while the bodies of her brother and father are still unaccounted for. Ji-yeon said her brother made sure she wore a lifejacket and told her "Everything is going to be fine." He was not wearing a lifejacket. Their parents were hard-working, sweet people full of positive energy, according to acquaintances.
Another woman, Lee Young-sook, 51, was a widow who raised her son, an only child, by herself. She was aboard the ferry with her son's clothing in the midst of moving from Incheon to the island after landing a job on Jeju.
Her son, 32, said he knew how much his mother wanted to live with him and couldn't express his grief in words. "I will wait for you, Mom, because I know it is you who is hurting the most. I think you still remain missing because you wanted to leave me with the best memory of you, but I will wait," he said.
Meanwhile, a special eight-member committee to inspect the recovered ferry said a thorough investigation will follow now that the ferry has been recovered.
"I wonder why it took almost three years, when raising the ferry was possible after only a few hours," one of the bereaved family members said.
"The top priority for the ministry should now be the ferry inspection to recover the remains of the victims. Measures should be discussed to prevent a recurrence of an accident like this," he added.
The committee, created Tuesday, will be allowed to investigate the disaster for six months including inspecting the wreckage and overseeing the recovery of the remains of the nine.