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The Rise of Sewol Ferry, and the Memories
[384호] 2017년 04월 07일 (금) Reporter Kang Min-seok .
On Mar. 24, salvage of the Sewol Ferry began after a long controversy between the government and bereaved families, with a preparation of more than a year. Two days after, on Mar. 26, the whole Sewol Ferry was brought up to the surface, and drainage work has started. I am writing this column on Mar. 26, and the ferry is expected to be brought on shore by Mar. 28 at the earliest. There are still debates and controversies about the timing and process of salvage, but what touched my heart was neither the politics nor the technical issues. I was reminded of the day the Sewol Ferry went down.
Apr. 16, 2014, the day of the tragedy, was a Wednesday. I remember the day so clearly. I first heard the news about the Sewol Ferry inside my high school teacher’s car. Because our school had no fixed classes Wednesday afternoon, the whole class was going out for lunch that day. At that point, the severity of the accident was not properly known, and there were even false report that everyone had been rescued, though it was soon corrected. However, it did not take long for everyone to realize the seriousness. Actually, the ferry had already flipped and almost totally sunken when the press reported that everyone got rescued.
Before I started to write this column, I saw a post that summarized a JTBC TV program named “Lee Gyu-yeon’s Spotlight” broadcast about Sewol Ferry. Divers who participated in the rescue operation made an appearance and talked about what they experienced during the operation. According to them, walls and iron doors and wooden shelves in the ferry were broken and students were crowded in the dead end. They said that bodies of some students were aberrantly twisted because they tried to escape by breaking the walls. Because there is no light under water, divers had to fumble following the red glow of the life vest to find people. To not damage the bodies, divers had to hug and carefully bring them back to the shore.
Everyone remembers the Sewol tragedy differently, and everyone’s thoughts about the accident are different. However, the important part is that everyone remembers the day the Sewol Ferry went down, like Americans remember the 9/11 attacks and the Japanese remember the 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake. Not only the divers and bereaved families, but the public including myself must remember what happened to the passengers and crew members.
It took 1075 days for the Sewol Ferry to be brought out of the water. Nine people are still missing. We should not forget the Seweol Ferry. 
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