Around 20 relatives of the students rescued from the Sewol ferry, which sank last Wednesday, gathered at the Ansan Office of Education in Gyeonggi Province and called for cooperation from the government and the media in handling the tragic accident whose confirmed casualties exceeded 100 on Tuesday.
|Relatives of the Sewol survivors plead with the government and the media to carry out a speedy rescue and minimize media coverage at the Ansan Office of Education, Gyeonggi Province, Tuesday. ( Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)|
Jeong Dong-won, a father of a survivor, spoke with a trembling voice as he tried to hold back tears.
“What is the government doing right now? If appropriate initial response had been taken, the damage would not have been so great. How can (a nation’s) disaster management system be so lax?”
He said the government needs to mobilize all state and civilian resources in the rescue effort, and conduct investigations only after the rescue operation is over.
Jeong and other mourning family members also pleaded with the media to stop coverage targeting students who survived the traumatic sinking and are still in shock.
“The media’s competition for news is cutting deeper into the wounds of the children,” Jeong said. “The children fear that water will flood in when they look out the window,” Jeong said, describing the current state of some survivors.
The family members also demanded that the local media focus on getting the facts right.
“The parents in Jindo are exploding in anger because what they see in the media is different from what is really happening.” He added, “(The media) is only focused on competing for breaking news and spreading misinformation.”
The coverage of the Sewol sinking has been plagued by false reports, including a local cable TV channel’s interview with a woman who falsely claimed that that government actions hampered the rescue operation.
On Sunday, dozens of family members of Sewol victims attempted to go to the Blue House, the official residence of President Park Geun-hye, only to be stopped by the police.
The parents said all the students, including the victims and survivors, should be taken care of, urging caution and responsibility from those involved.
By Suh Ye-seul (firstname.lastname@example.org)