AirAsia flight QZ8501: Korean family of three were travelling to Singapore to renew visas

Family members of passengers onboard AirAsia flight QZ8501 at a waiting area in Juanda International Airport, Surabaya on Dec 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Family members of passengers onboard AirAsia flight QZ8501 at a waiting area in Juanda International Airport, Surabaya on Dec 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL - Three Koreans were aboard AirAsia flight QZ8501 that vanished en route from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore early Sunday, according to the South Korean foreign ministry.

Park Seong Beom, his wife Lee Kyung Hwa and their 11-month-old daughter Park Yu Na were among the 155 passengers and seven crew members aboard the plane that lost contact with Jakarta's air traffic control after takeoff on Sunday.

The couple had been sent to Indonesia as Christian missionaries and were travelling to Singapore to renew their visas when the incident happened, reported Wall Street Journal.

The family was from Yeosu, a fishing village 280 miles south of Seoul, reported South Korean media.

"I still can't believe the family is missing," said Mr Choi Hong Koo, an official at the Yeosu First Presbyterian Church.

Mr Kim Sung Cheon, a church minister in Yeosu, said Park was sent to Indonesia three years ago and he married his wife the following year. Mr Kim explained that Indonesia does not issue missionary visas to foreigners, and Park and his family had to fly out to Singapore every year to get an extension. It is unknown what type of visas Park and his family had.

Park, a graduate of a theology school, has been described as devout, having been a part of the church since childhood, reported Yonhap news agency.

Mr Kim said the church and the organization that helped Park stay in the Southeast Asian country will hold a meeting to discuss the incident, reported Korea Times.