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Relatives Mourn Loss of Dam Discharge Victims

Posted September. 09, 2009 08:24,   


Relatives of the six South Korean victims of North Korea’s dam discharge flocked to an accident response center yesterday at the Imjin River.

The center was set up at the township of Wangjing in Yeoncheon County, Gyeonggi Province, in the morning.

Belongings from the deceased or missing collected through a joint search by civilians, the government and military were put on display for the bereaved families. About 10 items were exhibited including car keys, a laptop bag, backpacks, sneakers, fishing poles, gas burners and a straw hat.

The relatives cried after seeing the everyday items of their husbands, sons and brothers. The wide ground before the township office appeared rather small to contain the overflowing sadness of the families.

Han Ji-yeon, the wife of one of the dead campers Seo Kang-il, 40, burst into tears without saying anything the moment she saw her husband’s laptop case. His body was found Monday.

“This is the laptop case where my husband used to place in his office,” Han said before collapsing and beginning to weep. His bag containing his wallet was also handed over to his bereaved family.

The wife of the missing Lee Doo-hyeon, 40, hugged an orange backpack that her husband took with him while camping as if it was him. Taking out a gastric drug that remained in its package from the backpack, she said with her face down in sadness, “He took the gastric drug after complaining of stomach pain.”

Many officials and people at the accident headquarters wept as they saw Lee’s wife, who mourned bitterly after seeing her husband’s underwear. His backpack and clothing were found containing muddy water.

Another person fell in despair after failing to discover items familiar to her. Other families also looked sad while checking shoes found near the river in turn, trying to remember the shoes sizes of their lost kin.

Lee Gyeong-hwa, the wife of Baek Chang-hyeon, 39, who remains missing, said, “There’s nothing. How come nothing was found?” adding, “Many people died but are these only belongings you found over the last two days?”

When additional items collected in the search were made public around 2 p.m., Seo’s wife cried uncontrollably again. Items belonging to her husband from his car were put on display. She became speechless upon seeing his vehicle title. She softly touched her husband’s sportswear and jeans retrieved from the car for a while without saying anything.