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Memorializing Sewol tragedy

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By Donald Kirk

The sinking of the Sewol ferry five years ago was one of the greatest tragedies in Korean history. The memory for me, along with many others, is especially poignant since I spent hours in the great school gymnasium where families of the 304 victims, most of them middle school students, were waiting endlessly for the terrible news they never wanted to hear.

I remember the prolonged silence that hung over the room, then the outbursts of shrieks, of tears, of bodily contortions, as the news was broken to one family or another that the remains of their precious child had been recovered. The longer the wait, the less chance there would be more survivors. Finally, there were none.

Faint hope sprang eternal, however, as families prayed that maybe their sons or daughters had found safety in an air pocket, maybe hidden in small corners of the vessel that had not been flooded, or that some child had actually escaped but had yet to find his or her family. As chances of a reprieve from the awful news diminished to zero, however, families gradually lost the slender hopes to which they were clinging. Several of the bodies would never be found, at least until the........

© The Korea Times