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School Grieves Murdered Girl

Posted March. 15, 2008 03:00,   


“Hye-jin, may your soul rest in a better place,” said Shin Seul-bi (11) crying aloud after the silent prayer was over. For Shin Seul-bi, it has been difficult to accept that her best friend since fourth grade is gone forever.

In homeroom #3, grade 5 of Myeonghak Elementary School in Anyang, Gyeonggi Province on Mar. 14, Hye-jin’s empty desk was covered with white mum flowers that Hye-jin’s friends had brought.

Seul-bi believed that Hye-jin, who disappeared on Christmas day last year, would return for sure. The school also enrolled her into class hoping that she would return.

But she never returned. After going missing 77 days ago, her corpse was found.

“I saw the news last night and cried all night because I couldn’t forget her face. How scary and painful it must have been for her,” said Seul-bi, who was unable to speak any more.

Song Seon-ju, Hye-jin’s fifth grade homeroom teacher, also seemed beside herself. She was transferred to this school last month and was not aware of what to do considering the death of a student she had never met.

She held 30 yellow ribbons in her hands and kept repeating, “What now, what now?” Letters on the ribbons read: “Ye-seul, Hye-jin, We Miss You!”

“I made new ones. I never had the chance to let students wear these ribbons,” Song said.

After a long hesitation, she placed the ribbons on Hye-jin’s desk and pinned on a black ribbon for condolences.

Today, the school held a temporary session.

“I so hoped Hye-jin would come back safely. When I heard that she was brutally victimized, my heart broke,” read the school’s principal, Lee Yun-hyeong, pausing from word to word overwhelmed with grief. Other people’s eyes were also filled with tears.

“Hye-jin’s family lost a family member, and this school lost Hye-jin,” said Lee in tears.

Yesterday was White Day, when people confess their love to boyfriends or girlfriends. But there were no chocolates, candies or smiles. Condolence messages were left on the blackboard of homeroom #1, grade 6.

One of the messages read: “It is a sad day of condolence for us at Myeonghak. May this be a time for us all to grieve over the death of a friend who left the world before us.”

The scene on the way to and from school was not like other days. There were more parents who walked with their children to and from school holding hands.

A woman in her 40s, who came to Homaesil-dong, Suwon where Hye-jin’s corpse was found, handed over mums, clothes, and a cake to a journalist there.

This woman, who said she lives close by, also handed over a letter, saying, “I came here because I was also hurt as a mother of a daughter. I’d like Hye-jin to rest in peace and warmth.”

“Child, it’s not your fault. It’s the fault of grown-ups who were unable to protect you. Forget it all and rest in heaven wearing these clothes and shoes.”