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Amid rain, portraits move to a new memorial site

Posted April. 30, 2014 03:00,   


It rained three days in a row and only the sound of rain broke silence. It was solemn silence in which no one could say anything. The portraits of the victims of the Sewol ferry accident were carried from the temporary group memorial site in Gojan-dong, Ansan to the government memorial site in Hwarang Lake Park in Ansan on Tuesday morning, 13 days after the disaster.

The bereaved families arrived at the temporary memorial site at around 5 a.m. Some 40 taxis that lined up around the temporary site were flickering emergency light in the dark. The clothes draped the taxis were emblazoned with “condolence,” which shined in yellow.

The temporary alter was full of the victim’s portraits and memorial tablets. The families stood in front of the portraits and waited in line following the instruction of government officials. Starting with late Kim Min-kyu, 17, the portraits left the temporary site. Families clasped the portraits with their hands in white gloves and wiped them as if raindrops were there. Private taxi drivers of the Ansan chapter gave a nod to them and sat behind the wheel to carry them to the government memorial site, around two kilometers away from the temporary site.

The portraits and memorial tablets of 162 victims (155 students, four teachers, and three adults) were placed on the government memorial site. The portrait of Kang Min-kyu, the late vice principal of Danwon High School, was placed on the far left of the alter. Kang had been rescued by a helicopter after helping students escape the ship but killed himself for a sense of guilt. Besides it, the portraits of other victims were laid.

The new government memorial site began to accept visitors at 10 a.m. Memos handwritten by some 180,000 visitors who came to the temporary alter were moved as well. The government alter is six times larger than the temporary alter. The lines of visitors who wanted to express condolences to the victims were endless.