Parents of South Korea ferry victims shave heads in protest

2015-04-02 12:17
Relatives of victims of the Sewol ferry accident have their heads shaved during a protest ahead of the anniversary of the disaster, in Seoul. (Ed Jones, AFP)

Relatives of victims of the Sewol ferry accident have their heads shaved during a protest ahead of the anniversary of the disaster, in Seoul. (Ed Jones, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Seoul - Around 50 mothers and fathers of victims of last year's South Korean ferry disaster had their heads shaved in central Seoul on Thursday, to push demands for an effective and genuinely independent inquiry.

With the first anniversary of the tragedy looming, the parents, including ten mothers also called for the 6 825-ton Sewol ferry to be brought to the surface where it sank off the southern Island of Jindo on 16 April with the loss of more than 300 lives.

Ten at a time, the parents, wearing yellow, slogan-daubed barber's gowns sat on plastic stools in the middle of the capital's main ceremonial thoroughfare.

"The truth never sinks," they chanted before volunteers stepped forward to shave their hair off with electric clippers.

Following months of political bickering, the South Korean parliament passed a bill in November initiating an independent investigation into the sinking.

But relatives have accused the government of seeking to influence the probe by appointing officials to key posts in the inquiry committee.

The overloaded and unstable Sewol was carrying 476 people, most of them high school students on an organised trip when it capsized.

The tragedy sparked nationwide grief and outrage as it became clear that regulatory failings, official incompetence and the ship's illegal redesign were the main causes.

The official response to the disaster was widely criticised for being slow, uncoordinated and unfocused, and prompted President Park Geun-Hye to vow a complete overhaul of national safety standards.

On Wednesday the government announced it would start handing out compensation payments to the families of the victims, including around $380 000 for each of the 250 students who died.

The announcement infuriated victims' family groups, including those who had their heads shaved on Thursday.

"In the run up to the first anniversary of the tragedy, the priority for the government should not be monetary compensation but getting to the bottom of the incident, salvaging the wreckage and finding the last missing persons," they said in a statement.

Nine victims of the disaster remained unaccounted for.

More than 50 people have been put on trial on charges linked to the sinking, including 15 crew members who were among the first to climb into lifeboats.

The Sewol's captain was jailed in November for 36 years for gross negligence and dereliction of duty, while three other senior crew members were sentenced to jail terms of between 15 and 30 years.

Read more on:    south korea  |  maritime

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Debtors/Creditors Supervisor

Century City
Pro Placements Recruitment Agency
R10 000 - R12 000 Per Month

CSR Inbound

Cape Town Northern Suburbs
O'Brien Recruitment
R14 000 - R16 000 Per Month

Graphic Designer

Cape Town Northern Suburbs
Creative Sourcing
R7 000 - R9 000 Per Month

Property [change area]

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.