Families of S.Korea Ferry Dead March on Presidential Palace

Posted by Eric Haun
Thursday, May 08, 2014

Parents of children killed when a passenger ferry sank last month led a sombre march on South Korea's presidential palace in the early hours of Friday morning, where they demanded to meet with President Park Geun-hye.

Clutching memorial portraits of their children, family members and grieving parents were prevented by riot police from nearing the palace, and instead sat in the middle of the road where they sobbed, wailed and shouted in anger.

"Listen to us, President Park. Just give us ten seconds!," one family member said, using a portable address system. "Why are you blocking the way?," said another. "President Park hear our voices!"

Seated on the ground in the middle of the night, they wore beige blankets and huddled in rows on the cold floor. One mother, overcome with grief, quietly sobbed as she stroked a portrait of her dead son.

Park's government has faced continued criticism for its handling of the disaster from the families of the ferry victims, many of whom believe a faster initial response could have saved many more lives.

South Korean prosecutors are seeking the arrest of members of the family that owns the ferry operator, and may also seek the extradition of a son of the reclusive head of the family from the United States, an official said on Thursday.

The Sewol, overloaded and travelling too fast on a turn, capsized and sank about 20 km (12 miles) off the southwest coast on a routine journey from Incheon on the mainland to the southern holiday island of Jeju, killing hundreds of children and teachers on a high school outing.

Only 172 people have been rescued and the remainder are all presumed to have drowned. An estimated 476 passengers and crew were on board.

However, some of the crew, including the captain were caught on videotape abandoning ship while the children were told numerous times to stay put in their cabins where they awaited further orders.

They paid for their obedience with their lives.

Heartbreaking new video released by families on the march showed students laughing as they tried, and failed, to scramble up a vertical floor.

Earlier footage recovered from the students' mobile phones shows them playing around as the ship started listing, even joking about the sinking of the Titanic, when they had plenty of time to jump overboard.

Only two of the vessel's 46 lifeboats were deployed.


The prosecutors' pursuit of a son and a daughter of Yoo Byung-un, the head of the family that owns Chonghaejin Marine, the ferry operator, broadens the criminal investigation into the tragedy. The government has also started the process of stripping the company of its licence to operate ferries.

It was not clear whether Yoo Byung-un, who ran the defunct commercial empire that was the precursor to the sprawling business interests that include Chonghaejin, might be called in for questioning.

Yoo's son Hyuck-ki, who is believed to be in the United States, has failed three times to respond to a prosecution summons, an official said. Other aides to Yoo are also believed to be abroad and have ignored summonses.

"Since it is an important issue that has drawn public attention, we will do our best (to ensure) their attendance and forcible extradition," said Kim Hoe-jong, second deputy chief prosecutor at Incheon District Prosecution Service.

Prosecutors arrested several officials of the ferry operator and its affiliates, including Chonghaejin's chief executive, on charges of negligence causing death and the sinking of a vessel on Thursday.

All 15 of the surviving crew members, including the 69-year-old captain, have been arrested and face charges of gross negligence amid accusations they abandoned the vessel without performing emergency escape procedures.

Yoo's sons, Yoo Hyuck-ki and Yoo Dae-kyun, are majority owners of Chonghaejin Marine through an investment vehicle.

The prosecution is working with the U.S.' Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security for possible extradition of Yoo Hyuck-ki, the prosecutor said.

Prosecutors have also raided the shipping company's offices and financial regulators are investigating borrowings of the company and of businesses that are part of a wider holding firm.

Son Byoung-gi, a lawyer who has spoken for the family previously, did not immediately comment.

South Korea, Asia's fourth-largest economy and one of its leading manufacturing and export powerhouses, has developed into one of the world's most technically advanced countries, but faces criticism that regulatory controls have not kept pace.

Nearly 450,000 people have paid tribute to the victims at the altar set up near the school many of the children attended.

By James Pearson and Ju-min Park; Additional reporting by Kahyun Yang in Seoul; editing by G Crosse, Jack Kim and Nick Macfie)

Maritime Today

The Maritime Industry's original and most viewed E-News Service

Maritime Reporter November 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Passenger Vessels

First Cruise Ships Dock at Abu Dhabi’s New Stopover

Abu Dhabi Ports─the master developer, operator and manager of ports and industrial zones in the Emirate―has started welcoming cruise liners at Sir Bani Yas Island,

Five P&O Cruise Ships Meet in Sydney

Sydney is the stage for the biggest get-together of a fleet of cruise ships ever seen in the harbor city.    Five P&O cruise ships have created a V-formation

Turbocharger Retrofits for Royal Caribbean

MAN PrimeServ informs it has won the contract from Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL) to retrofit the turbochargers aboard four cruise liners from its fleet.   The


Tote Cargo ship adrift near Haida Gwaii

The MV North Star, a cargo ship that is owned by TOTE Maritime, spent more than half a day adrift Tuesday off the coast of British Columbia, Canada.   The Canadian

When Conducting Investigations Consider 'Privileges'

Whether voluntarily or as required by the International Safety Management Code, the American Waterways Operators’ (AWO) Responsible Carrier Program, or some other rule or regulation,

Adrift Cargo Ship Taken in Tow

The Barbados-registered cargo vessel Skog, which was adrift off Orkney after encountering engine problems, is now under tow, the U.K. Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) reported.


Nakilat Damen Shipyards Qatar JV is 5

On 23 November 2015, Nakilat Damen Shipyards Qatar celebrated its first 5 years of operation. With 40 vessels delivered or under construction, the yard has proven

Deltamarin to Designs First LNG Handysize Bulk Carriers

Deltamarin Ltd proudly announces that it has signed a contract to design the world’s first LNG handysize bulk carriers, which will point the way towards greener shipping of commodities.

Wärtsilä's' Digital Services for Performance Enhancement

Wärtsilä, a global leader in complete lifecycle solutions for the marine and energy markets, launches a new service portfolio, Wärtsilä Genius services to help

People in the News

Wärtsilä's' Digital Services for Performance Enhancement

Wärtsilä, a global leader in complete lifecycle solutions for the marine and energy markets, launches a new service portfolio, Wärtsilä Genius services to help

Seagull's Software Tool for Benchmarking Seafarers Knowledge

Seagull Maritime has launched an advanced software tool able to benchmark seafarer knowledge levels, allowing shipowners and operators to compare their crew

SSI Hires Holder for US Sales

SSI has hired CAD/CAM specialist Robert Holder as part of its sales force in the U.S. market.    According to SSI, the hiring is intended to meet the expanding


Cadmatic Used for Alaska Ferry Design

The Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) has awarded the Alaska Class Ferry project to Vigor Alaska shipyard in Ketchikan, Alaska, where construction is currently underway.

VIKING, PVA Join Forces for New USCG Safety Compliancy

Coastal vessel operators trying to come to terms with upgraded US Coast Guard regulations for survival craft have been helped along the way by VIKING at the

MOL Subsidiary to Build Ro-Pax Ferries

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. announced that its group company Ferry Sunflower Limited is moving ahead with plans to construct two large-scale Ro-Pax (roll on/roll off passenger) ferries.

Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Naval Architecture Navigation Pipelines Pod Propulsion Port Authority Ship Repair Sonar Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1039 sec (10 req/sec)