Grief-filled graduation ceremony held for victims of South Korea's Sewol ferry disaster

Family members of the victims of the Sewol ferry sinking attend an honorary commencement ceremony for the 250 dead students of Danwon High School in Ansan, Gyeonggi-province, South Korea on Feb 12, 2019.
Family members of the victims of the Sewol ferry sinking attend an honorary commencement ceremony for the 250 dead students of Danwon High School in Ansan, Gyeonggi-province, South Korea on Feb 12, 2019.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SEOUL (THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A long-delayed commencement ceremony was held on Tuesday (Feb 12) for 250 Danwon High School students who died in the Sewol ferry disaster on April 16, 2014.

The students were on a school trip to Jeju Island when the ferry carrying 476 passengers sank off the south-western coast near Jindo, killing 304 aboard.

Only 75 students survived, and they graduated in 2016.

The victims' families had asked the school to postpone the honorary commencement ceremony until the bodies of all the victims had been recovered.

The bodies of two students - Nam Hyun-chul and Park Yeong-in - and teacher Yang Seung-jin have not been recovered.

About 700 people attended the ceremony, including Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae, Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon and Mr Lee Jae-jung, superintendent of the Gyeonggi Office of Education.

"Nothing can be a consolation or comfort to us other than the children coming back alive," said Mr Yoo Kyung-keun, head of an association of the victims' families.

 

The bereaved families had asked for the ceremony to honour students whose names had once been removed from the school register.

In the wake of protests from the families, the students' names were reinstated so that they could graduate posthumously.