Mourning the Victims of Sewol Ferry Disaster on Buddha’s Birthday

It was a subdued Children’s Day (May 5th) and Buddha’s Birthday (May 6th) this year as the country is still shocked, sad, and angry after the Sewol ferry disaster three weeks ago. A lot of anger is aimed at the government for the accident – a list of allegations including that the boat wasn’t seaworthy, had too much cargo onboard, and that the rescue operation was slow and ineffective suggest that Health and Safety has not been on top of the agenda.

Outside City Hall in Seoul people lined up to put a white Chrysanthemum on an alter in remembrance of those who died. There was a 40 minute wait from the end of the line to the alter where people could pay their respects. A large banner hangs across City Hall with an apology to the victims of the accident: 미안합니다 mi-an-hamnidasewol2

Children’s Day was especially sombre since most of the victims were high school students all from the same school. I heard that in some classes only one student survived. Many school trips go ahead in spring but after the disaster school trips across the country were cancelled. Bodies are still being recovered and one diver has died trying to retrieve the bodies from the wreckage under the sea.

On the grass outside City Hall there are yellow paper boats with messages to those that died on the ferry.

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A sign on the grass in front of the paper boats invites people to stand here for quiet contemplation.

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Yellow ribbons with messages for the victims are a symbol of mourningsewol6

The fact that the passengers were told to remain in their cabins to wait for further instructions when the boat was clearly sinking (not to mention the video footage of the captain being rescued in his underpants) has understandably caused outrage – the children who were trying to be good and doing as they were told by adults they trusted were the ones who didn’t survive. Here’s one message I saw on the noticeboards. It says “Korea, where people who follow the rules get hurt”. Very sad.

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Heo Jun Recaps episodes 1-64

The thing with Heojun is that right from the word go, it’s intense. (No wonder it reached record-breaking viewing figures of over 60%!!) By the end of the first episode my stomach was in knots over the injustice of it all. Heojun, I feel your pain. Straight away we know that this is going to be all about overcoming the injustices of the class system and the social rules of Joseon society.

Heojun episode 1

heojun01It’s 1568 the first year of King Seonjo’s reign. Heojun is the son of a magistrate which should make him a yangban aristocrat, but his mother is a gisaeng, entertainer. And that puts him in a very difficult situation. He is not an aristocrat but not really a commoner. And he’s got a chip on his shoulder about that. (I KNEW I was going to get really into this again. But this time I am going to try to ration myself to one episode a day! )  Continue reading “Heo Jun Recaps episodes 1-64” »

Dongdaemun Design Park

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Wow, from this angle it looks like a shark. It has also been likened to a spaceship. Anyway, the newly opened and controversial Dongdaemun Design Park is certainly not bland! It has been built in place of the baseball stadium – the country’s first sport’s stadium – that was knocked down several years ago. Only the baseball stadium lights (below) are left as a reminder of the past… Continue reading “Dongdaemun Design Park” »