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Seoul public schools to honor victims of 2014 Sewol ferry disaster

April 14, 2024 - 14:29 By Lee Jung-joo
This photo shows a memorial classroom set up for students and teachers who lost their lives in the Sewol ferry tragedy at Ansan, Gyeonggi Province. Consisting of 10 rooms for second-year students and one for teachers, the memorial classrooms keep the desks, chairs, blackboards, windows, and doors used by students and teachers who perished. (Yonhap)

Public elementary, middle and high schools in Seoul will voluntarily observe "Educational Community Safety Week" in memory of the victims of the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster, marking a decade since the tragic event, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education on Sunday.

The Seoul Education Office will distribute educational materials related to the Sewol ferry tragedy to all public schools in the city during this year’s “National Safety Day” week from April 16 to 26.

The schools will also voluntarily host a week of remembrance to commemorate the disaster.

According to the Seoul Education Office, it has guided the public schools it manages to host a variety of memorial events, including memorial ceremonies, writing letters to those who passed away, hanging yellow ribbons and hosting discussions under the themes of human rights and safety. Yellow ribbons are commonly used to express sympathy with and condolences over the deaths of the victims of the Sewol ferry sinking.

“The Education Office will continue to mourn the victims (of the Sewol ferry tragedy) and strive to create a safe educational environment,” said Cho Hee-yeon, superintendent of the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education.

The Sewol ferry tragedy took place 10 years ago on April 16, 2014, after the Sewol ferry capsized off the southwestern island of Jindo in South Jeolla Province, resulting in 304 deaths out of the 476 on board.

Out of the 304 deaths, 204 were high school students on a field trip to Jeju Island. April 16 was designated as National Safety Day by the government shortly after, to be marked as a day to remember the importance of public safety.

At Doksan High School in Geumcheon-gu, western Seoul, a student group will play a video in each classroom in memory of the students who died when the ferry sank, for instance. Commemorative messages will be also written on yellow ribbons and butterfly-shaped post-it notes and posted on each floor of the school. Yellow ribbon keyrings and badges will be handed out to students on the way to school.

Students of Younglim Middle School in Guro-gu, western Seoul will also march together to the Statue of Peace near Guro Station, where a memorial festival organized by the school’s student council will take place.

Workers paint a yellow ribbon on a lighthouse on the breakwater at Paengmok Port -- now known as Jindo Port -- at Jindo, South Jeolla Province on April 4. (Yonhap)