If you've been following the news from this part of the world, you've heard about the Sewol ferry disaster. If you haven't, here's the basics. On April 16th, a ferry traveling from Incheon to Jeju, an island off the southern coast, sank. There were 476 people on board. 174 were rescued. Of the 302 remaining, most were high school students, members of a single class from Danwon School in the city of Ansan. They were taking a school trip together. As of this writing, 183 are confirmed dead, but dangerous conditions have hampered the rescue and recovery effort. 119 remain unaccounted for. It is difficult to convey the scale of this tragedy, and how deeply it has affected Koreans. Even North Korea has sent condolences. Everywhere we go, people cluster around TVs or computers, watching the non-stop coverage. The surviving ferry crew members have all been arrested on criminal charges, and the political fallout reached the highest levels of government with the recent resignation of the Prime Minister.
Making matters worse, the media coverage itself has often been a source of confusion and anger. To say that much of the reporting has been disjointed or contradictory would be a cruel understatement. To say it has sometimes been frankly inaccurate, even heartrendingly inaccurate, would be closer. Eat Your Kimchi had a recent post about this. We recommend it. We also recommend the BBC's reporting, mostly for their dedication to getting the story right.
We don't know anyone who was directly involved, but all of our Korean friends have been affected by it. It is impossible in these circumstances to know what to say, what to do. The few feeble words that we can muster seem wholly inadequate.
-Erin and Sam