Families call off search for last 8 missing sailors

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Families call off search for last 8 missing sailors

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Despite prolonged search efforts, the bodies of eight of the 46 sailors who died in the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan remained missing yesterday.

The families of the missing sailors had to make the agonizing decision yesterday to ask the Navy to call off the search for their sons.

There was speculation that their bodies may have been swept away in the sea or burned when the naval vessel exploded on March 26.

The bodies of 36 sailors were recovered from the Cheonan’s stern when it was raised on Thursday.

The eight remaining missing sailors are Master Chief Petty Officer Lee Chang-gi, Senior Chief Petty Officer Choi Han-gwon, Chief Petty Officer Park Gyeong-soo, Petty Officer First Class Jang Jin-seon, Petty Officer First Class Park Bo-ram, Petty Officer First Class Jang Jin-seon, Private Gang Tae-min and Private Jung Tae-joon.

Around half of the missing sailors were in their 20s.

“Flower buds that were just starting to bloom have sunk beneath the waters,” said popular comedian Kim Jae-dong, 36, on his Twitter page. “I feel so sorry that I am standing on a sunny spring road.”

In Yeouido Park, Seoul, the sun shone on a long row of letters laid out in the center of the park from citizens to the dead sailors.

Upon seeing the corpse of her son, Petty Officer First Class Suh Dae-ho, 21, Ahn Min-ja, 52, cried out, “My Dae-ho, why is your face covered in oil? Why is he like that? He is so blue ...” as she fell to the ground. Suh’s body was flown to the Second Naval Fleet in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi, which handled the remains of the 36 sailors who were recovered on Thursday.

The government and the families of the 46 sailors who were killed in the explosion of the Cheonan are arranging funeral plans. The sailors will be honored in a traditional Korean Navy funeral.

“We are in the middle of talks with the military on funeral plans,” said Na Jae-bong, the father of the late Private Na Hyeon-min, and the head of the funeral planning group among the family members of the Cheonan sailors.

Numerous memorial events for the sailors were held throughout the country yesterday.

Students at Wabu Elementary School in Namyangju, Gyeonggi, made memorial drawings of the deceased sailors.

Internet commemorations were in abundance yesterday as well. One Internet user, Kim Jong-hwa, wrote, “Our country will remember you as beautiful youths who sacrificed your blood for Korea and its citizens.”

On the Navy homepage created early this month in honor of the missing sailors aboard the Cheonan, more than 5,000 visitors logged on in just 16 days.

Many citizens worried that the cause of the ship sinking would not be discovered. Song Se-mi, 21, the girlfriend of an Army officer, said “I feel as though my boyfriend could be hurt during action at any time now.”



By Cho Jae-eun, Kim Hyo-eun [jainnie@joongang.co.kr]

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