In absence: the Sewol ferry disaster in South Korea

A disaster began to develop silently at 8:49 am on April 16, 2014.

The Sewol ferry, bound for Jeju Island in South Korea, began to sink. On board were 476 passengers, including 325 students on a school trip. Mobile phone images record students struggling to stand in their cabins, the atmosphere is calm but uncertain.

Dashcam images showed cars sliding down the car's deck when the ship overturned.

A passenger had made an emergency call at 8:52 am, aand through radio communications the authorities were notified. The ferry continued to sink.

A single patrol boat arrived and the captain escaped from the ship at 9:47 a.m. No one had asked the passengers to evacuate.

In the next few hours, the rescue operation never intensified, not when passengers with life jackets began to jump off the ship, not when the ferry leaned completely to its side, and not when it sank so that only its bow remained above the water

More than 300 people, mostly schoolchildren, had lost their lives.

Following this, a group of civilian divers came to assist in the rescue efforts of the Coast Guard. For months they recovered the bodies and belongings of the victims. Public protests, and requests for justice from the families of the victims, would also help boost the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye in 2017.

Using phone and dashcam images, radio communications recordings and accounts of survivors, civil rescuers and families of the deceased, In the absence The Sewol ferry disaster follows with meticulous details, offering an unshakable look at one of the great tragedies of South Korea, and the layers of dysfunction and abandonment that led to it.


By Seung-jun Yi

April 16, 2014. The day has become one of the most painful days in modern Korean history for most Koreans. They saw the sinking of the MV Sewol ferry, live on television, and 304 passengers and crew members, including 250 high school students on their school trip, were killed. It was painful and traumatic, not only because of the number of victims, but because of the fact that they could have been saved.

Five years have passed since the disaster, but I can still witness the pains of the families of the victims, civilian divers and many more people who were affected by the tragedy.

After a long investigation, it turned out that the tragedy was not only an unfortunate accident, but a systemic failure of the social and political fragility of Korean society.

Although it was a clear failure of the rescue operation, no one has been punished except the captain of the coast guard ship.

History teaches us that tragedies are repeated if we forget them easily. The families of the victims ask us to "remember April 16,quot;. It is not only a call to support their demand for adequate investigation, but also comes from their desire not to witness such tragedy in any society again.

Human beings are vulnerable to "time." As time passes, we forget many things. Time makes us boring. It is like a black hole that absorbs our thoughts and feelings.

We need to be awake about this world, the system and order that control this world. I want people to remember the day, remember what happened that day. And I hope that people do not forget that if a system does not work properly, in the end it can cause terrible pain and trauma to innocent citizens. Pain that may not be curable. This movie is my plea for people to wake up and monitor the systems.

Source: Al Jazeera