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South Korea

Investigations into Sewol ferry disaster 'need to be reopened'

Earlier probe suffered from government inference

Updated: April 18, 2017 04:52 AM GMT
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Investigations into Sewol ferry disaster 'need to be reopened'

Yellow ribbons adorn Paengmok Harbor of Jindo. The ribbons contain people's wish for the return of bodies who have not yet been recovered after the Sewol ferry accident. (Photo by The Catholic Times of Korea)

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A South Korean mother, who lost her child in a maritime disaster, has joined calls for the government to resume investigations into the 2014 tragedy that claimed over 300 lives.

Cecil Jung Hye-sook, who lost her child in the Sewol ferry disaster, was part of the April 6 panel discussion hosted by The Catholic Times of Korea.

"We cannot speak of healing before a full fact-finding investigation is conducted," said Chung who added that without a full explanation of the tragedy, healing and reconciliation can be made.

Other panel participants included lawyer Lee Seok-tae, former chairperson of the Special Investigation Commission on the April 16 Sewol Ferry Disaster, and Jesuit Father Oh Se-il.

All panel members called for an investigation committee — which stopped work in September 2016 — to be reinstated.

"The committee could not fulfill its duty due to inference from the government," said Lee. "Unlike the former investigation committee, a new committee should have the right to forcefully investigate the accident," he said.

Father Oh said, "We should take the tragedy as a chance to learn a historical lesson that no one can conceal the facts behind a tragedy and manipulate them."

In total, 304 passengers and crew members died in the disaster but only 295 bodies were recovered. Most of those who perished in the disaster were teenage school children. Salvage work is still ongoing and there remains hope that the nine missing bodies will be recovered.

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