Friday, April 18, 2014

South Korea & The Sewol Ferry Sinking

A friend from home sent me a message making sure I was okay, and I think it's important to acknowledge the tremendous sorrow and fear of the number of people that are still missing and of the number of people that have died in the Sewol Ferry disaster. 

I was at the home of one of my Korean teacher friends, excited to eat dinner with her and her daughter and mother, when she turned on the TV and asked me if I'd heard about it. The footage of the ship on its side -- it is a disrupting image. A ship doesn't look like that. We stood there and I slowly began to comprehend the facts. At that time, there were three counted dead, which I was understanding as, "Okay, three dead." My friend was saying how earlier in the afternoon the number was good at zero dead. But then, she explained what the other numbers in the counter box in the top right-hand side of screen meant. Then that most of the people on board were from an Ansan high school. High schoolers -- please let there be a gigantic jump in the number survived, please.  

We kept the news on as we cooked and ate dinner; it was a lovely evening, and I am glad I could know about the Sewol sinking with my teacher friend. It would have been worse to hear about it through NPR or Facebook. There is an indelicate manner about the links and articles that don't come from my Samsung flatscreen. I chucked my phone to the ground when one of the NPR's hourly updates said something about "pumping air into the sunken ferry for the parents." Fuck that, there are roughly 270 people - mostly kids - still missing. That air is for hope, for the air pockets that must be there, please. 

The Korean news coverage is right there. I have been a little taken aback at how personal some of the shots are. I think there is a greater level of comfort and respectful stubbornness between the cameras, reporters, and the families because everyone is Korean. In general, Korean television is a constant jingle and bright talk; but, the news anchors on the channel I've been watching just bowed deeply for five or six seconds as complete silence played over the network. 


The laughter and jokes filled the English classroom today and I made my usual round of greeting and asking students how they are. One of my sixth graders responded with, "I am sad." I asked why and she explained about the boat and water. It was so clear and reminded me how my youngest brother used to come down the stairs, spotting me in the kitchen, saying, "Good morning, Abigail." A simple and genuine expression can mean everything. 

I am okay. I am sad. I am with South Korea as I hope and pray. 

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