News / Asia

Surviving Children of S. Korea Ferry Disaster March to Pursue Full Inquiry

South Koreans march towards the National Assembly at Yeouido Park in Seoul, caring signatures of petitions for the enactment of a special law after the ferry disaster, July 15, 2014.
South Koreans march towards the National Assembly at Yeouido Park in Seoul, caring signatures of petitions for the enactment of a special law after the ferry disaster, July 15, 2014.
Reuters

Teenage survivors of South Korea's worst maritime disaster in 20 years, many wearing yellow bracelets, walked out of classrooms on Tuesday and marched on parliament to demand enabling  legislation for a inquiry into the more than 300 deaths.

More than half of the 75 children rescued from the ferry Sewol that capsized and sank on April 16 joined growing public calls for parliament to pass a special bill for an independent inquiry sought by victims' families. More than 3.5 million signatures have been collected to demand its passage.

“The entire nation saw it on April 16. We ask that the truth behind the unfair deaths our friends suffered be told,” said a bespectacled boy taking part, who asked not to be identified.

“We don't know much about the law, but if we don't do this there is nothing we can do, so we ask that our wish is met.”

Of the 476 passengers and crew, 339 were children and teachers from Danwon Highschool on the outskirts of Seoul. Only 172 people were rescued and the rest are presumed to have drowned.

The children passed though the school's stone gates and down a boulevard, mostly in silence.

Many wore the bracelets emblazoned with “Remember 0416” or sashes and kerchiefs made out of yellow pieces of cloth - the color chosen to express dissatisfaction with the authorities' handling of the disaster.

Other marchers carried yellow flags. One sign read: “Shed light on our friends' unfair deaths.”

“Our children are marching with their pure hearts to console parents of their friends and ask to find the truth of the disaster,” said Oh Ji-yeon, the father of one survivor.

The children made their way to a small park where 15 relatives of  victims were undertaking the second day of a hunger strike to press for the bill. Marchers set up displays of yellow paper boats to draw attention to the strikers.

Boxes of signatures

Nearby, organizers set up neat rows of boxes, covered in yellow paper, each containing some of the 3.5 million signatures backing the petition to parliament. Several dozen adults had earlier marched to the site carrying yellow umbrellas.

The Sewol's 15 surviving crew members, including the captain, are on trial on charges ranging from homicide to negligence. Security forces have been engaged in a manhunt for more than two months for the head of the family that owns the holding company of the ferry operator.

Families of the victims and survivors say too little is being done to establish the truth about what led to the disaster on a routine journey to the holiday island of Jeju.

The special law demanded by the petitioners would ensure their participation in an independent probe into the sinking. The families have demanded the right to name half the experts from the independent team to pursue the inquiry.

Parliament has agreed to consider the bill, but is split on legal grounds over whether to grant the group investigative authority. Investigators have established that the Sewol was overloaded and traveling too fast on a turn when it sank.

President Park Geun-hye's government has come under heavy criticism for its handling of the disaster and the sluggish rescue operation. Her prime minister resigned but was reinstated after two failed attempts to find a replacement.  

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs