The 2014 Sewol Ferry Disaster traumatized South Korea. Conspiracy theories emerged to make sense of the senselessness. Here are the biggest ones.
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April 16, 2014; anniversary of Titanic (April 14-15, 1912)
Biggest peacetime disaster
304 deaths, 172 survivors
One of those events you remember where you were when you heard it.
- All the cancellations
- I was in a meeting
- North Korea sank it
- Conspiracy by the far right
- A NK submarine would have to go deep into southern SK waters, shoot a silent torpedo that somehow left no hole, and sneak out
- Deliberately sunk
- Conspiracy by the far left
- Gov’t trying to start war with NK
- Company trying to get insurance money
- Human sacrifice theory
- A ceremony to reincarnate Choi Tae-min or Park Chang-hee
- PGH referred to the victims as a “noble sacrifice”
- Seeded by Choi’s cult background
- This weirdly doesn’t make sense because people escaping would be considered blasphemous when committing a human sacrifice
- Intentional neglect during the rescue
- Even opposition party members believed this one
- Submarine accident cover-up
- This time it was an accident, and the intentional neglect was to save face for the Korean navy
- Some celebrities pushed this one
- Cosmetic surgery theory
- Believed to be recovering from a skin lift or Botox
- Some politicians pursued this one
- There was some truth that through Choi Soon-shil, PGH was receiving secret cosmetic procedures, but not around the time of the Sewol
- Lotte Hotel rumor
- PGH was being given Botox on the VIP room on the 36th floor
- Were out of sight until she recovered enough for the cameras
- There is no VIP room on the 36th floor, only a banquet room
Meeting a bereaved parent
Shin Jumja hates meeting neighbours; feels they look at her with pity; what’s more, son Hwi-beom didn’t want to go on the trip, afraid of sinking; Shin pushed him to go; compounded bereavement: bereaved parents tend to blame themselves. Therefore…
- Bereaved parents need community of bereaved parents; no one outside community understands: don’t try to enter community
- Best to say nothing to bereaved parent outside of condolences at the time – never offer condolences after the fact
- Be careful to encourage parent to join grief therapy, parent groups, etc.; do not push constantly; if parent appears suicidal, contact professional immediatley
- If you meet someone and discover they’re bereaved parent, say nothing unless parents brings it up first; in short, never ask a bereaved parent about their child
- Movement today to not ask people when they’re having children – add one more reason that isn’t discussed: they may be bereaved
On a flight to the USA for my father’s funeral in 2019, I sat across from a bereaved parent (there were several on the flight going to an event in LA). She saw the yellow ribbon on my purse and asked about it, and I said it was in honor of the Sewol Ferry victims. Her daughter was Han Goun– one of the teens. She gave me a much better yellow ribbon charm, and told me about her daughter. I was working on my father’s eulogy, but she definitely helped me put my grief in perspective (my father was almost 80 and sick– he had lived a full life). Every time I see a memorial I think of Han Goun and her mother who shared their story. I look for her photo and hold her memory and the memory of her mother in my heart.
Thank you for sharing, Sonia. Beautiful.