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5 Days of Mourning Set for Cheonan Victims

Posted May. 01, 2010 00:37,   


A five-day national mourning period began yesterday for the 46 deceased crewmen of the naval patrol vessel Cheonan. Mourning altars were set up nationwide, including one at the Navy’s 2nd Fleet Command in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province. As part of the five-day naval funeral, the funeral service will be held at the base Thursday morning.

On Saturday, Na Jae-bong, the head of the funeral planning group comprised of the bereaved families of the crewmen, said, “The search for the missing sailors has ended Saturday and we will proceed with the funeral beginning Sunday. Joint mourning altars nationwide will be open to the public.” Many people came by to pay their respects to the deceased from 2 P.M. Sunday nationwide.

Cabinet members including Prime Minister Chung Un-chan and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Kim Sung-chan, who will officially preside over the funeral, visited the memorial at the Pyeongtaek base in the afternoon.

A combined 150 altars were set up nationwide yesterday for public visits. A Navy official said, “In addition to 90 altars set up by the Navy, 16 established by major provincial or municipal authorities, including the one in Seoul Plaza and others provided by cities, counties and districts, will be open to the public until the funeral service on Thursday.” The deceased sailors will be interred at the National Cemetery in Daejeon after the service.

The Navy also gave posthumous promotions to all 46 crewmen. Their promotion became effective April 3 when the body of Senior Petty Officer Nam Ki-hoon was found under a naval regulation saying a posthumous promotion takes effect the day a sailor dies in battle or at his post. Senior Chief Petty Officers Kim Tae-seok and Moon Kyu-seok, who had their regular promotion while the search took place, were promoted to the rank of master chief petty officers.

The government also designated a five-day national mourning period from Sunday to Thursday, and the day of the funeral, Thursday, will be a national day of mourning. A Public Administration and Security Ministry official said, “The decision reflects the highest respect the government can express to the deceased sailors, and is the first time for the government to designate a national mourning period and day for a domestic occasion.” The government designated Sept. 14, 2001 as a “national day of mourning” to remember those killed in the September 11th terrorist attacks on the U.S.

Over the mourning period, all civil servants must wear a black ribbon and the ministry has recommended a delay in official government events or festivals. The Korean flag will be flown at half-mast at all schools and government buildings between 7 a.m. and midnight. In addition, the entire nation will observe a minute of silence at 10 a.m. on the day of the funeral at the siren signal.

jmpark@donga.com jhk85@donga.com