Remembering the Sewol Ferry Tragedy

This pass Saturday marked the 8th year anniversary of the most horrid events in history. For those who are unaware, a ferry traveling from Incheon to Jeju sunk, killing about 325 people, around 250 were high school students. While researching this event, I found it very disheartening to watch students making final videos and distressed “I love yous” to their loved ones while also reading some of the letters written by parents years after. Birthed from this tragedy was a sort of rebellion against those in charge. One of the things I found most disgusting was how the entire situation was handled by those in charge of the ship, the government, and the coast guard.

It is important to mention the culture around authority in South Korea. As an observer, and eager learner I think it is important to note the culture and give a respectful glance into situations such as these, while also honoring the people. That being said, in South Korea, it is very common to honor those who are older than you or those who are of higher rank. However, that very culture is still being questioned because of this tragedy. Since then, there have been multiple protest against the former Korean president, which resulted in her impeachment. From looking at numerous interviews of parents, one thing that has been consistent was their regret from telling their children to listen to those in charge. The captain and a few crew members ordered the students to stay in their cabinets as they made their hasty escape. It is horrifying to know how many lives could’ve been saved because of this selfish decision.

Media’s Call to Action

I initially learned of this issue through a very popular South Korean drama titled, All of Us Are Dead. This show is about zombies, but it proves to be much deeper than that. It touches on topics similar to this tragedy by showing the struggle students had with authority figures in the show. One quote that stood out to me the most was, “I don’t trust the ones in charge anymore.” It’s not a direct quote, but it still holds so much power. Much like the students on the ferry, the kids in the show were given horrible directions and were forced to fend for themselves, the government never lending a hand to help. 

There was also another aspect I really liked about this show. To always remember those who were lost in this tragedy a yellow ribbon is used to symbolize what happened. In the show, yellow ribbons were used as a guide for the students to navigate their way through a forest. This was a sure connection between the two and I really love that they paid homage to that.

Though this event is not common knowledge in America, I do believe it is up to us to always remember what happened on April 16,2014.

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