Parents of 24-year-old teacher Choi Hye-jung sobbed as they spoke about their daughter at the hospital where her body was taken.
Choi, a Danwon High School homeroom teacher who was heading to Jejudo Island on a school trip, was found dead at around midnight Wednesday.
Choi is one of nine people confirmed dead as of Thursday afternoon. The maritime police transported her body to a hospital in southern city of Mokpo in South Jeolla Province.
“I cannot believe the death of my daughter. She was very smart and ambitious. She graduated summa cum laude from the teacher’s college,” said Choi’s father Choi Jae-gyu.
Double-majoring in English and History at Dongguk University in Seoul, Choi started her career at Danwon High School in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province, right after qualifying as a teacher.
“She texted me that the departure of the trip was delayed due to the weather. That was the last text,” her father said.
He spoke about his daughter’s passion for teaching. The 24-year-old never complained about working overtime, the father recalled
“Her pupils followed my daughter very well. Her students used to give her a hug whenever they visited the teacher’s room.”
Choi, the eldest of two daughters, once sought to become an air force officer but decided to become a teacher, her father added.
Sitting bent in a chair, Choi’s mother continuously wept, saying nothing.
The families headed back Thursday to Ansan to set up a funeral service hall.
The rescued students also expressed their sorrow.
“Warmhearted Choi never punished students harshly. She was renowned for sincere teaching,” said one of the rescued students surnamed Kim.
The death of the passionate teacher was a great loss, Choi’s colleagues said. “Her diligence and sincerity were the finest among the new teachers at the school. It is so tragic to lose such a fine teacher,” a school official was quote as saying by a local news outlet.
By Lee Hyun-jeong (firstname.lastname@example.org)