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Mothers of Park Ji-yeong and Min Pyeong-gi

Posted May. 12, 2014 03:02,   


Yun Cheong-ja, the mother of Senior Chief Petty Officer Min Pyeong-gi who lost his life during the sinking of the Cheonan worship in March 2010, donated the compensation money paid by the government, which is worth 100 million won (about 97,466 U.S. dollars), to the nation asking to use it to strengthen national security. Employees and executives of an SME in Gyeonggi Province were touched by her donation and sent her 8.3 million won (about 8,090 dollars). But she also donated that money to the Second Fleet. When students and teachers of her late son’s alma mater Buyeo High School in South Chungcheong Province collected condolence money of 1.2 million won (about 1,170 dollars) for the mother, she added 300,000 won and donated it back to the school as a scholarship.

The mother of Park Ji-yeong, a crew member of the Sewol ferry who sacrificed her life to help passengers evacuate from the ship, politely declined donations from the art school students of Seoul National University worth about 2 million won (about 1,949 dollars). The students were touched when the mother said, “It would be better to give (the donations) to people in more difficult circumstances under the name of my daughter.” Parents of some student victims of the Sewol ferry accident used the cheapest funeral products even though the government supports all the funeral expenses, saying, “We can’t spend taxpayers’ money carelessly.”

Yun, the mother of the navy man, is an ordinary farmer in her 70s. Park and her mother also struggled to make ends meet. Although the causes of the two accidents are different, the sufferings both mothers have to bear cannot be compensated by money. Nevertheless, the two mothers conceded the money to the nation or those in more difficult circumstances. It is not easy for people with low income to decline a large sum of money that can supplement the family income.

The shipping company, captain and his crew members abandoned the passengers in the sea and neglected safety rules by being obsessed by greed, which causes resentment among the public. The collusion of “Haefia (a term coined by combining Hae meaning the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries in Korean and mafia)” and the Korea Coast Guard with related businesses and safety ignorance are at a pathetic level. The “dark enthusiasm” by some people in our society who try to politically exploit the national tragedy and the act of the media that covered the news without fact-checking or verification is disappointing. Even in the midst of the turmoil, parents of some victims have touched the hearts of the people. Moderation and consideration that the two mothers showed despite the grief of having lost their child are not what anyone can do.

Editorial Writer Kwon Sun-hwal (shkwon@donga.com)