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South Korea Ferry Disaster

Woohae Cho

Ansan, South Korea. April 2014

On 16 April 2014, the 6,825-ton ferry MV Sewol sank on a trip from the port city of Incheon on its way to the southern resort island of Jeju in the Korea Strait. On board were students from Danwon High School in Ansan, a city of more than 700,000 south of Seoul, on their way to the island on a four-day excursion.

The ferry was carrying twice the amount of cargo than was legally allowed, and much of it was poorly secured. With an inexperienced seaman at the helm, the ferry made a sharp turn and capsized. As the boat went sown, crewmembers urged passengers to stay in place. In the end, more than 300 people died, including nearly three quarters of Danwon’s second-year class.

Seven months after the tragedy, on 10 November, the boat’s captain, Lee Jun-seok, was sentenced to 36 years in prison. In all, 15 crewmembers were given sentences ranging from five to 36 years.

Meantime, residents said the city has been suffocating in grief since the accident that claimed the lives of 250 of its children.

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