The Korea Herald


South Korea’s virus response rooted in lessons from Sewol tragedy: Moon

By Ahn Sung-mi

Published : April 16, 2020 - 15:31

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(Yonhap) (Yonhap)

Commemorating the sixth anniversary of the Sewol ferry tragedy that claimed 304 lives, President Moon Jae-in on Thursday said the lessons learned from the 2014 sinking are embedded in his government’s responses to the novel coronavirus outbreak. 

‘We cried with the Sewol ferry tragedy, shared a sense of the responsibility (for the lives lost) and realized how deeply interconnected we are with each other,” he wrote via social media. “As we overcome COVID-19, we are reaffirming this interdependence once again. Citizens are wearing masks, observing social distancing and self-quarantine rules, to prevent anyone from leaving helplessly.

“In remembering the children who left with the legacy of social responsibility, I sincerely thank our fellow citizens.”

He pledged continued efforts to uncover the truth behind the accident as well as go on with the planned establishment of memorial park, named the 4.16 Life and Security Park, and a national health center for trauma in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province, where most of the victims, students of Danwon High School, were from.

Stressing that life after COVID-19 would be completely different, Moon vowed to thoroughly prepare for the new norm, as well as to bolster the country’s disaster response.

The Sewol ferry carrying roughly 500 passengers sank off the southwestern coast of the peninsula on April 16, 2014. The tragedy claimed 304 lives, with many of them high school students who were on a school trip.

The slow sinking, which happened in broad daylight and was broadcast live on TV, is said to have left a collective trauma in Korea. Public anger toward the Park Geun-hye administration’s botched search and rescue operations was partly behind the leader’s impeachment years later.

By Ahn Sung-mi (