Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Korea ferry victims' parents demand meeting with president

09 May 2014, 10:25

Seoul -Parents of high school students killed in South Korea's ferry disaster descended Friday on the presidential Blue House, holding portraits of their lost children and demanding a meeting with President Park Geun-Hye.

After they were blocked by hundreds of police, some in riot gear, dozens of the parents -- backed by scores of supporters -- staged a sit-in at a street corner, a few hundred metres (yards) from the Blue House.

By Friday evening, the number of people joining the demonstration had swelled to several hundred. Armoured vehicles with water cannon were on stand-by nearby.

The parents sat clutching framed photos of their children, who perished when the Sewol ferry sank with the loss of around 300 lives last month.

"We're calling for a meeting with the president to press our demands," a spokesman for the families, Kim Byeong-Kwon, told AFP.

"We will stay here until we secure a meeting with the president," he said.

The victims' relatives have been extremely critical of nearly every aspect of the government's handling of the disaster.

They want explanations for perceived delays in the initial rescue effort, and are calling for those they believe responsible to be punished.

"In particular, we want a thorough investigation into reasons why it took more than three days before the first bodies were pulled out," said Kim Hyeon-Dong, whose daughter's body was retrieved six days after the ship sank.

'I'm so sorry, children'

The families also want more resources deployed at the recovery site to speed up the search for the 30 passengers still unaccounted for.

Supporters of the group pasted small, yellow paper boats on the sides of police vehicles with handwritten messages reading "I'm so sorry, children", "Remember the Sewol" and "Shame on South Korea".

A few representatives were eventually allowed into the Blue House for talks with some of Park's senior advisers who, they later said, had promised to help arrange a meeting with the president.

Park has met the victims' families on several occasions, and been subjected to some angry heckling.

Her previously high popularity ratings have taken a dive in the wake of the disaster, despite two public apologies.

The demonstration began late Thursday night as a protest outside KBS-TV after comments by the state-funded broadcaster that the death toll from the Sewol was far lower than the number of those killed every year on South Korea's roads.

Shortly before dawn, the parents decided to march to the Blue House to demand a meeting with Park.

The Sewol was carrying 476 people when it sank on April 16 after listing sharply to one side and then rolling over.

Of those on board, 325 were children from a high school on an organised trip to the southern resort island of Jeju.

Initial investigations suggest the ferry was carrying up to three times its safe cargo capacity.

Many parents believe some children may have survived for hours or even days inside airpockets in the capsized ferry, but died because rescuers took too long to access the submerged vessel.

"Her body wasn't decomposed at all," Kim Hyeon-Dong said of his daughter.

"I believe she must have stayed alive for quite a long time after the boat rolled over.

"What we are especially angry about is the fact that many of our children would have made it if help had come earlier," he said.

The confirmed death toll stood at 273 on Friday, with 31 still unaccounted for, after four more bodies were retrieved from the sunken ship overnight.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Jayne Zack
I am in ODM to stay, Busia Depu...

Busia Deputy Governor Kizito Wangalwa told Deputy President William on the face that he was in the Orange Democratic Movement to stay. Read more...

Boda Boda operators in Bahati rai...

Motorbike Boda Boda operators from Bahati Sub county on Tuesday took to the streets of Nakuru’s CBD lamenting over what they term is harassment by patrol police officers in the area. Read more...

Submitted by
Gabriel Ngallah
Human Rights activist lives in fe...

The Human rights fraternity in Mombasa is currently living in fear after the home of one of the vocal human rights champion was invaded on Monday night. Read more...

Submitted by
kel wesh
Poisonous milk powder siezed by K...

The Kenya Revenue Authority has seized two containers with illegal milk powder which had been declared as gypsum board at Mombasa port. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Be ready for protests, Raila warn...

Expect protests if meddling with Auditor General continues, Raila Odinga has said. Read more...

Submitted by
Kenya says will return to interna...

Kenya will return to international markets to borrow when it feels the time is right, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich said on Tuesday. Read more...