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[Ferry Disaster] Families bid tearful farewells to loved ones

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Published : 2014-04-21 17:27
Updated : 2014-04-24 10:33

Families and friends tearfully bid farewell to loved ones as funeral services were held over the weekend for victims of the ferry that sank off the southwestern coast of the country last week.

On early Monday, the funeral service was held for the Danwon High School vice principal.

The 52-year-old vice principal, surnamed Kang, committed suicide on Friday, two days after hundreds of his students drowned or went missing in the ferry sinking. Before he hung himself, Kang wrote in a suicide note that he could not bear the guilt over the accident as he was in charge of planning the school trip.

Over 50 family members and friends of Kang followed the hearse in tears to the crematorium.

Earlier in the weekend, the funerals of several victims were held in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province. 
A 17-year-old victim’s brother holds a picture of his sibling at a funeral service in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province, Monday. (Yoon Byung-chan/The Korea Herald)

Hundreds of students gathered at Danwon High School to mourn the deaths of two 17-year-old classmates.

The funerals for two teachers were also held on Sunday. The father of 35-year-old Nam Yoon-chul tried to hold back his sobs but cried out in the end, saying, “I love you, my son. Goodbye.”

Parents of the other teacher, Kim Cho-won, seized the hearse tightly and repeatedly called their daughter’s name. The day of the tragedy ― April 16 ― was the 26-year-old’s birthday. With gifts and letters, students were planning to hold a surprise party for Kim on the ferry

Meanwhile, the funeral of Park Ji-young ― one of the few crew members who risked their lives to save the teenagers ― has been postponed. Enraged over ferry operator Chonghaejin Marine Co.’s announcement that it would only provide 7 million won ($6,700) for funeral costs, Park’s family said it would not hold the service until the ferry company delivered a sincere apology for mentioning the compensation issue during the mourning period.

Meanwhile, funeral halls are filling up as more of the victims’ bodies are recovered.

Initially, when a body was recovered from the water, it was moved to a hospital in Mokpo, South Jeolla Province, to check the identity through a DNA test. Afterward, it was allowed to be transported to Ansan ― the hometown of most of the victims.

In Mokpo, the funeral halls of a few large hospitals are already packed. In Ansan, most of about 100 chapels in 13 funeral halls are also full, hospital officials said.

While many bereaved families wished to hold funeral services in Ansan as soon as the bodies were recovered, the mandatory one-day DNA test required them to stay in Mokpo until the test was completed.

As families complained about the late handing over of the bodies, the maritime police decided to allow bereaved families to transport the bodies immediately as long as the identities were checked by parents.

By Lee Hyun-jeong (rene@heraldcorp.com)

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