Saturday, November 8, 2014

No answers only heartache six months after Korean ferry disaster

Picture: Peter Ryan

The sinking of the Sewol ferry off the Korean peninsula six months ago remains a source of deep sadness and heartache in South Korea.

The fallout from the tragedy stunned the nation and even today many people remain suspicious about the Korean government's investigation amid claims of fraud, embezzlement and corporate coverup over who's to blame.

I visited a tent city in downtown Seoul, not far from my hotel, which is dedicated to the lives of the more than 300 people - mainly high school students - who drowned when the Sewol ferry capsized back in April.

Here's my report from this morning's edition of Saturday AM on the ABC.

Picture: Peter Ryan

Yellow ribbons mourn the 300 lives lost when the Sewol ferry sank in April  Picture:Peter Ryan

Picture: Peter Ryan

Most of the Sewol tragedy victims were high school students who stayed in their seats waiting for instructions as the ferry capsized and sank.

The ferry captain is facing the death penalty, accused of jumping ship and saving himself. 

But he says the company is to blame for overloading the ferry and commissioning and illegal redesign.

The Sewol investigation has deadlocked Korea's National Assembly with more than 90 pieces of legislation, including a free trade agreement with Australia held up by the highly emotional and divisive investigation into the Sewol tragedy.

ABC business editor Peter Ryan with protester Misun Cho at the tent city

Many victims of the Sewol tragedy were high school students - protesters now worry their children are unsafe Picture: Peter Ryan

Picture: Peter Ryan

The vibrant music could be mistaken for a celebration. But there's only sadness here. Picture Peter Ryan

I visited South Korea as part of the Australia-Korea Journalist Exchange. 

Thanks to the Walkley Foundation, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade and the Korea Press Foundation.

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