Grieving Families of the Sewol Tragedy Stage Hunger Strike

Since the Sewol ferry accident on April 16th, 2014, the grieving families of the victims and their supporters have continued staging protests and holding vigils, often clashing with the police. There have been several sit-in protests as well as several large silent protests that serve as a reminder not only to remember the victims, but also as a way to pressure the government to make the structural changes that would prevent another incident of its kind.

Photo from news1:


Grieving families of those who lost their lives due to the Sewol tragedy gather for a hunger strike Gwanghwamun Square (Seoul, Jongro-gu) on Monday afternoon, demanding a special law be passed that would spur further investigation into the incident.

Comments from Naver:

The victims’ families shouldn’t stage a hunger strike if they think there should be a special law to investigate the incident further. Have a press conference – “We don’t all need special treatment!” If they just request that a complete investigation be made into the incident, I think they would get complete support from the public.


They should only do what’s needed… Isn’t special college admission too much? There weren’t just students among the victims. This is too much.


If people keep getting special treatment, they begin to think that it’s their right.


Why does only the Sewol have to get special treatment? How about the families of the victims in the Gyeongju resort incident, Sealand fire, bombardment of Yeonpyeong-do, Cheonan sinking and Daegu subway fire – why don’t they also demand a new special law and get special treatment? Don’t go overboard.


You know you will faint if you stop eating for a week, right? Don’t fake it like Lee Jung-hee did. If you really want to do it, do it properly.


Don’t be so stubborn. People who’ve been in sorrow and economic recession for months are getting exhausted.


I understand their sentiment but it’s excessive. Even the families of the fallen soldiers in the Cheonan Sinking and the Second Battle of Yeonpyeong didn’t demand special treatment. It’s too much. The majority of people will be repulsed. Sometimes silence says more.


It’s sad but I think they’re going too far.


Don’t go overboard…Are they really doing some business out of this?


Given they died while on a trip, it still doesn’t make sense they get better treatment than the families of the victims of the Cheonan that was blown up and sunk.


It’s all good that they demand a special law but I hope they don’t stage a hunger strike just because they don’t have it their way. Their children wouldn’t have wanted them to starve themselves on a strike like this.


What’s wrong is wrong. Be reasonable…


Do NOT pass a special law!


Let’s see whether they really don’t eat anything at all.


Would your children or families in heaven be happy about this? If it were me, I’d be so sad.


Stop it. You’ve overstayed your welcome guys.


Is your new job now crying over the Sewol?


No words………


I will keep an eye on whether they eat or not.


What are you doing……?

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  • BSDetector

    A story on Korea Bang without the word “Netizen” in the title? Standards are dropping…

  • Boris

    The comments show no sorrow for those who lost their loved one. They are staging a protest because they probably think this will be whitewashed (and it probably is, governments have a habit of doing that).

    Sometimes special laws need to be passed so something like this doesn’t happen again. There is no comparison to the Cheonan incident in this.

    • BSDetector

      So you think passing a special law [to somehow intensify the investigation that they really don’t have an understanding of in terms of scope and agression just becuase they feel like things aren’t moving fast enough] will ensure something like this never happens again?

      You’re not planning for running for any public offices are you? That’s exactly the type of foolish thinking that has many governments in the sh*tty shape they’re in.

      • Boris

        The article states:

        “There have been several sit-in protests as well as several large silent protests that serve as a reminder not only to remember the victims, but also as a way to pressure the government to make the structural changes that would prevent another incident of its kind.”

        I thought the special law is ‘to make the structural changes that would prevent another incident of its kind’ stated in the article.

        So, no, I don’t think “to somehow intensify the investigation that they really don’t have an understanding of in terms of scope and aggression just because they feel like things aren’t moving fast enough” – that is your assumption. Maybe you have followed this news more than I have, there is no need to be an ass about it.

        And, no, I am not going to run for public office. I am not bent enough to do so.

        • Chucky3176

          Instead of rallying the people around their cause, they’re turning people off with sit in protests, demanding some mysterious law to fix everything and bring back their loved ones. Nobody has any clue as to what this law is supposed to do. There aren’t any more need for investigations as to where the faults lie. We know where all the failures were. The public is starting to get fed up with the families. They need to move on with their lives. And if they want changes, they should organize themselves and put out concrete demands and have a rational coherent strategy for their cause, instead of just being a mob justice protesting this and protesting that without a specific clear goal.

          It’s been three months since the sinking, yet there are still divers risking their lives to find a dozen missing bodies because the families demand they find all the bodies. Two divers died doing so, how many more lives need to be sacrificed so that they find the bones of those missing? Yesterday the families made the Korean government hire a private US company to help out with missing bodies. The US divers came, looked at the poor conditions, and left the same day, saying it was too dangerous. What’s incredible is that the Korean government is letting the families to run the recovery operation and make all the decisions.

          • Boris

            See Chucky, you make more sense than BS there.

            I haven’t followed the story. So I don’t know what is going on, but I can see it from both sides how it looks. Families are finding it hard to move on. It’s understandable, but they do need to move on. People getting upset as it seems like they want or are getting special treatment from the government when other tragedies didn’t get the same perks.

            On the law aspect, they should have made some demands/suggestions that would prevent such things happening again, but then again the government should be doing that anyway with their own investigation. I suspect not much will happen, or if anything it will be artificial. Maybe that is why the families protest (i’ve no idea as I haven’t followed the story).

            Your last paragraph basically should be the government saying they have done all they can and if the family wish to carry on the rescue mission, then it will have to be on their own money/time as it cannot risk any more people’s live for those that have passed away.

          • BSDetector

            I made less sense to you because you suffer from thinking you’re smart. No law will be effective, laws are widely ignored here.

            A populous that accepted an unsafe way of life caused this, only they can turn it around by first admitting they’re the problem and then moving on to changing their way of life.

            And yes maybe it’s time more people started being asses when they see stupid people say stupid things like “there needs to be a law!”. Stupid people are infectous.

          • Mang

            It will take generations to change and actually laws could help IF they are properly enforced. My parents generation didnt wear seat belts (Often were not even installed in cars), wear helmets etc. The government saw people were dying and brought in laws AS WELL as having educational campaigns starting in school, on TV and so on.
            If you get caught without a seatbelt in my country now its an instant $150 fine. The road death toll has plummeted (of course there are myrid reasons)

            In Korea I barely ever see cops stop anyone and the amount of kids I see standing out windows,sitting on their parents laps while driving, tells me the law is virtually pointless. The government can see that Korea has one of, if not the highest motor vehicle mortality rates in the developed world, but do nothing to enforce the law.
            Laws were in place to stop the sewol tragedy, but there were back handers, winks and handshakes, and nothing was done to make sure they were followed.

          • Chucky3176

            See, that’s not what the families are protesting about. They demand government do something (nobody specifically know what they want, just that they want the government to do something), and hold street protests, hunger strikes, tying up traffic and inconveniencing everybody. To the public, it looks more like temper tantrums than actually wanting real meaningful changes. At this point, I really don’t know what they have in mind. If this is a grief process of not being able to accept the deaths of their loved ones, or they’re just taking out their anger and lashing out, and the government is the target, or they really want meaningful changes but they’re going about it in wrong ways. It could be all three.

          • Boris

            The government should be doing something about it anyway/already. Finding out how such a thing managed to happen and ways to stop it happening again. – Are they doing this, Chucky?

          • Chucky3176

            What specific things do you think those protesting families want the government to do?

          • Boris

            My question isn’t about the families asking the government specific things.

            I am making an assumption here, because I usually see something like this happen back home. There is an investigation into what went wrong, how it went wrong and why it went wrong. Then there is a process of finding a solution to preventing it from happening it again. Then the solution is put into place. I assume the government is doing this. My question is simply asking if they are in fact doing it or not, as I have no idea about it.

          • Chucky3176

            This is Korea. Bi-partisan politics bickering means the bill is being debated in Parliament and both parties are hung up on technicalities. But it’s not as if there is no political will nor as if they’re not trying to do something. Protestors should at least wait until the technicalities are debated and agreed upon by the both ruling and opposition parties, before knowing what the problem is. Both parties know they have to come up with something.

          • Chucky3176

            Here’s an example. The Senuri party wants the investigative team to be made of leaders of other government offices as well as five members of the surviving families, to ensure there is a “balance” to the investigation. On the other hand, the opposition wants the investigation team made mostly out of the ranks of the victim families and those appointed/approved by the families. So they’re arguing over who should be the investigators. Both parties have good points with their cases. Where do you think the investigators should come from?

          • Boris

            I’m guessing the lack of trust is the reason why the families are going to be part of leading the investigation. Would that be correct?

            And I am assuming the leaders of other government offices have knowledge on how to run such an investigation. Do they?

            Ideally you would want someone independent but I am guessing that is impossible for Korea.

          • Mung

            lol, this isn’t a normal country where you get a side of the conflict to conduct an investigation ;) They’re afraid of corruption, right?

          • Boris

            Actually, I don’t suffer from thinking I am smart. You made an assumption on what I think, while I just went off on what was stated in the article. Like I said, maybe you have followed this story and know more about it. My comment was based solely on the content in the article.

            SAnd yes, laws are only effective if they are enforced. We do agree on this point, that laws are ignored there.

            “A populous that accepted an unsafe way of life caused this, only they can turn it around by first admitting they’re the problem and then moving on to changing their way of life.” – And how do you go about such a thing? Bottom up or top down?

            “And yes maybe it’s time more people started being asses when they see stupid people say stupid things like “there needs to be a law!”. Stupid people are infectous.” – Depends on the situation. But its easy being an ass online. Anyone can do it.

          • chucky3176

            My last paragraph says no such thing. At this point, it’s not a “rescue”. It’s cleaning up and closing the tragedy. Risking more lives to recover more dead bodies is not worth the risk, and it’s been over three months since the search began, how much longer must the search going to continue? There has to be a time that comes where this has to end and we have to accept the fact that the dozen bodies may never be found. There’s high probability they could have been swept out to the open sea by now.

          • Boris

            ‘Rescue mission’ was the wrong term. The government needs to stop. If the families wish it to carry on, then the government has to say it has done all it can and if they wish to carry on, to do it on their own time with their own money.

            People move on in different ways. If all is done, then there is no more to do. Some people may wish to do more. If the family members do wish to do more, then they can hire people willing to take the risk. That is entirely up to them.

            Also, it is easy to say ‘move on’ – I don’t know the families, may be some have lost their only child, I have no idea. It’s not always easy to move on.

          • Mang

            Actually the US divers never got a chance to start diving. They asked the co-ordinators to reposition a positioning barge for safety reasons, which the authorites refused to do. Just another example of safety coming second. You make it sound like the US divers arrived and went “Oh boy. These waters are dangerous. No way in hell are we going in there”. Instead it was an example of “Please understand our culture” Korea think where logical requests are turned down, “Just because”

          • Boris

            This does paint things differently now.

            Was it possible to move the barge or other reasons why it was refused? or was it flat out refused without any reason?

            If the latter, then the government clearly have not learned any lessons. But that was going to be a given.

          • bigmamat

            The Korean divers have not been using air tanks. They’ve been using lines like the kind used for deep sea diving because of the cramped quarters. Although they may be using standard tanks now as well. The American dive team was going to be using “rebreathers” which recycles the air and allows for longer diving time. I believe the flotilla of barges the Koreans have parked there must create a problem likely due to the swift current in that part of the water. I’m not sure if it would have hurt for the Koreans to halt their operations for a few days in hopes that the American team would be able to use their fancier equipment. It isn’t like they couldn’t resume their operations if the American attempt ended in failure. Perhaps the Koreans were concerned if they pulled back for a couple of days they would receive more criticism for stopping than if they just sent the Americans home. They’ve received enough of that already.

          • Chucky3176

            No, the Korean divers had meticulously mapped out a mesh of lines (paths) that are connected to the barges. The divers depend on those lines to get themselves into the sunken ship, and out of it, because the visibility under the water is zero due to all the sediments and particles. If they take out those barges, then they’ll have to take out all the paths that they worked so hard for months to put in place as well. So effectively, the Korean diving operation will have to stop right there because they’re not going to start over again just for a dozen bodies. Now, if the Americans find those bodies, then all this is moot. But what if they don’t? It will be the Korean search operation command once again on the hot spot, why they don’t restart the search again, what’s so hard about restarting the search, and why they let bunch of outsiders to come in and mess it all up, is Korea so incapable of finding bodies on their own, etc etc etc. on and on.

          • bigmamat

            That makes sense. I knew they were using lines.

          • Chucky3176

            The Americans wanted all the barges moved out of the way. That would have meant the Korean divers would have to come to a complete stop of all operation. Yeah right, the Korean divers are going to just move out of the way so that Americans can dive in comfort. Please understand our culture my ass.

          • Mang

            But it really is indicative of the differences in thinking. They saw the barges as a safety hazard and as such wanted them moved. They werent willing to take put their lives at risk.
            The fact that 2 Korean divers have passed away and many others have suffered from decompression sickness does show that
            a) of course the waters are treacherous
            b) safety standards aren’t what they should be

            I’m not implying the Korean divers are bad, unprofessionsal or anything like that. I couldn’t imagine what they have been through and the risks they have taken. They have worked amazingly well in extreme conditions. But the fact remains there is a facet of Korean thinking which is like “Screw it, this is actually dangerous but we’ve got to do it”. Like overloading an already illegally modified ferry. Or placing a barge in a position that could snag lines or block safety positioning for the divers or whatever. Maybe you see that as brave, others would see it as unnecessarily dangeous especailly at this stage when it’s not a rescue missions.
            A private dive firm from the US was not willing to do that and wanted the condtions that they knew to be safe, even if that meant operations ceasing for the other divers.

          • Chucky3176

            The two Korean divers didn’t pass away because of those barges, Mang. They died of over-diving, and wrecking their bodies. Overloading a ferry illegally has nothing to do with the divers also. The Americans requested the barges to be moved, not because of lines, but because they feared that their high tech equipment will bump into them and requested all the barges out of the area. That means Korean operation would have to come to an end after three months and 200 bodies recovered, to let outsiders from the US who have not been tested yet in this area, just to have a crack at remaining dozen missing bodies. If I was the divers who’ve dived everyday for several months, giving all out, I don’t think that I would take it kindly and accept that.

          • Mang

            I’m not saying the barges killed anyone or that the divers overloaded the ferry.
            I’m painting a picture of the environoment in which the accident did happen and subsequesnt accidents that could happen. Also how the prevailing culture of “safety second” and how it might be viewed by others
            Sometimes you have to swollow your pride for the greater good.

          • Boris

            “But the fact remains there is a facet of Korean thinking which is like “Screw it, this is actually dangerous but we’ve got to do it”.”

            “The two Korean divers didn’t pass away because of those barges, Mang. They died of over-diving, and wrecking their bodies.”

            Just proved Mang’s point for him there, Chucky.

    • Pak

      You’re not making sense Boris and neither are the 9 people who AGREED with you! Smh

  • bballi bballi paradise

    “적당히좀해라” could translate into something a little more sensitive, don’t you think?

  • bigmamat

    I don’t think the families should stop even though their “demands” may be vague. Someone should step up and help them come up with a clear message. It’s unfortunate that after only 3 months much of the rest of Korea is “tired” of being reminded that almost 300 school children lost their lives due to corruption and indifference from a complacent and complicit government. These tragic deaths could have been prevented. If it were my son or daughter I wouldn’t stop lobbying the government until I was satisfied there would be some kind of change the public can measure. It’s unfortunate that the families don’t have some kind of legal representative who can help them come up with some clear demands.

    • history

      It’s called get over it and move on, an ability which koreans seems to lack

      • bigmamat

        I didn’t loose a kid that day but I have a couple of them and on behalf of all the parents that lost their children that day….FUCK YOU EAT SHIT AND DIE…

  • whatdokoreanswant

    why are these korean still complaining. they already put so much effort in the aftermath. but these Koreans are ungrateful and complain and whinge. hey news flash, they are DEAD, you can hunger strike and carry on all you want, they ain’t come back. this isn’t the walking dead, Charlie

    • why


  • I think a drowning strike or a waterboard strike would better get their message across ty

  • dark

    Heart goes out the family – I will never be able to understand your loss.
    Korea is so corrupt having special law will only point back to themselves. Each time you pay under the table, or exercise nepotism, you are only part of the problem. So why a special law? Why not root out corruption from the bottom? Tradition and law – always at conflict – Korea at it’s best and worst.

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