Four years into a brand-new presidential management that promised transparency, households say key questions still stay shrouded in mystery.

In this April 5, 2015 document photo, loved ones carrying the portraits of the victims of the South oriental ferry sinking that killed much more than 300 people a year ago, march throughout a rally in Seoul, south Korea.

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On April 16, 2014, the Sewol ferry, i beg your pardon was cruising from Incheon come Jeju, sank. The ferry went under at approximately 8:50 a.m., when Koreans to be on their means to work and also school. The news shocked the nation, but at first, went ago to their everyday lives with a feeling of relief: The media reported breaking news the all passengers on the ship had actually been rescued. However, that soon became clear the was false. The day was a destructive one for Koreans together they careened through facility emotions while scanning the news: astonishment, relief, shock, and also sadness.

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The coastline Guard and also civilian divers alike mobilized because that a rescue effort, but they missed the gold time. While countless passengers in the slowly sinking ship endured in the increasing water, the public had no an option but come pray and also watch. Follow to news reports, private fishing boats ended increase rescuing an ext passengers than the coastline Guard at the scene, leading plenty of Koreans to concern the agency’s efforts.

The final fatality toll discover a tragedy: 304 that the 476 passengers were killed; five of the bodies were never recovered. The the 299 deaths, 250 to be second-year high school students. Like so plenty of other students, they go on a school expedition to Jeju Island, the many beautiful place in southern Korea, in the blue spring of April. Lock failed to return home.

The sunken ferry was not increased to the surface ar until march 23, 2017. It took about three years because that the government to decide how finest to traction the ship the end of the water. By the time, some parts of the hull were rusted, and also many components were no much longer recognizable. Tears flowed native the eyes of the bereaved family members members city hall the ship be lifted and moved to the cradle. Your grief and also wounds to be incurable.

It soon came to be clear the the tragedy to be compounded by a fail of leadership. Park Geun-hye, the South oriental president at that time, go not appear in public for around seven hours after the ship’s sinking was reported. Park continued to be in her bedroom all the time without relocating to her office, although she was briefed through the head the the national Security Office on the accident in the morning, according to news reports. Meanwhile, the head that the regulate tower, which demands to attend to disasters quickly, did not faithfully take component in protecting the lives and also safety the the people. Throughout that time, the shore Guard and also the government’s response was unacceptably insufficient.

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On the ferry itself, the captain escaped an initial without help the passengers escape. Meanwhile, passengers that were said to remain on the sinking delivery waited patiently for rescue that never ever came. Believing what the authorities told lock turned the end to it is in a deadly mistake.

Seven years have passed due to the fact that then. Some of those directly affiliated in the disaster, including the captain, were sentenced to prison, but the bereaved family members say they have actually not yet completely uncovered the cause and truth the the disaster. A particular point the contention is that no one in fee of either the coastline Guard or the control tower was hosted accountable because that the failed catastrophe response. In January the this year, the prosecution’s special examination team concluded that there were no grounds for charges that negligence against the coast Guard.

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Meanwhile, there room still questions around why the delivery sank, and why passenger were not rescued. The bereaved families have consistently raised the same questions because the ship sank. What was the chairman doing that day if the catastrophe unfolded? If the delivery sank due to the fact that of a spicy turn, why walk the crew make a sharp turn in the an initial place?


The bereaved families judged the they would certainly not have the ability to hear the answers to these concerns until the Park routine was changed in 2017. However they hoped to receive closure under brand-new President Moon Jae-in, who had actually been the main opposition party’s leader and also had join them in asking the very same questions. However with under a year continuing to be in Moon’s term, the families are still having actually to require to the roadways to demand answers.

Yoo Kyung-geun, the head the Sewol Victims’ family members Committee, said The Diplomat that victims’ family members are asking an easy questions but still have not heard indigenous the government, politicians, and also prosecutors.

“If the factor why the ship sank is because of a spicy turn, we should understand why a navigator made a sharp revolve in the situation, yet we still have actually no answer about it,” Yoo said.

For the previous seven years, no one has actually been able to properly identify the cause of the Sewol ferry’s sinking. Assorted investigative committees tried come answer the question, but failed to with a single clear conclusion.

Other questions remain together well. “It has been revealed because 2014 through investigations and trials the the coast Guard has not check or taken actions to rescue passengers. Therefore the concern we asked is why the coastline Guard didn’t perform anything,” Yoo said.

For seven years, investigations by the special investigation committee and the prosecution revealed countless facts about the disaster, yet no investigation was conducted into why the shore Guard did not mount a an extensive response.

To this day, no one knows what National knowledge Service and also presidential Blue home did top top the job of the disaster. That’s because Hwang Kyo-ahn, Park’s former prime minister, designated records of Park’s activities on the work of the disaster together the presidential record when he became acting president after Park was impeached. That means the public – contained the bereaved households – cannot access those records for as much as 30 years.

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A lawyer, tune Ki-ho, filed a sue in June 2017 for access to the records. The very first trial ruled that the records should be accessible, however the decision to be reversed top top appeal, and the bereaved family members have yet to accessibility the records. The can be fried Court’s judgment will be the last word, however the peak court has not however issued a decision much more than two years because the finish of the 2nd trial.

“It is clear and important to know what Blue home did ~ above the day, yet the prosecution go not also tackle this part in the investigation,” Yoo said. Yoo also included that lock cannot dominance out the possibility that Blue residence officials ruined the records at the time.

While the bereaved households have to be demanding the federal government to disclose the reality for seven years, some have disparaged their efforts, speak the family members members are seeking financial compensation. The prosecution’s special examination team claimed in a briefing the the Defense protection Command and also the nationwide Intelligence service had created a report about the bereaved families.


Government agencies sought come disparage and also distort the needs of the bereaved families, and also even started investigating them beginning from the work after the disaster. That was also confirmed the the government tried come manipulate public opinion by using too much right-wing internet users, websites, and organizations. In other words, rather of trying come responsibly take care of the disaster, government agencies and also the Blue home at the time targeted the grieving households for a smear campaign. The bereaved family members had to constantly challenge accusations that all their requirements were aimed at making money.

“In the early on days, we couldn’t recognize the reaction. But due to the fact that the reason has actually been revealed, we’ve been able to watch why we had actually to go with that,” Yoo said

However, Yoo says the government-made frame is still prevalent in society. The is quiet painful because that him come hear the disaster dismissed as just a “marine website traffic accident.”

In the meantime, countless laws have been passed creating conditions to burned light top top the disaster. However, the results from the government and investigative agencies not touched top top the deepest issues. After seven years the investigations and inconclusive findings, plenty of Koreans space tired and also the bereaved family members are sorry for that.

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“It’s our place that the Moon administration should discover out the truth and solve every the fact-finding jobs that need legal punishment and also responsibility,” Yoo said. He added that the bereaved families hope the Moon management does no pass on its responsibility to expose the truth of the disaster to the following government.