3 selfless heros in Sewol ferry disaster recognized

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3 selfless heros in Sewol ferry disaster recognized


From left: Park Ji-young, Kim Gi-woong, Jeong Hyeon-seon

Three people who died in the Sewol ferry tragedy while helping others escape were recognized yesterday for their selfless acts of bravery.

Under official regulations, the government may recognize any citizen who has sacrificed his or her life or was injured while trying to save others. The families of the heroes who died will be granted about 200 million won ($195,207) as well as other benefits. The heroes themselves can be buried in a national cemetery.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare yesterday held a review and recognized three heroes from the Sewol tragedy on April 16 and three people who sacrificed their lives in other tragedies. It also recognized two people who were injured while saving others.

Among the six who died on the Sewol were Park Ji-young, Kim Gi-woong and Jeong Hyeon-seon.

According to the ministry’s statement, Park, a 22-year-old crew member, handed out life jackets to passengers and helped them off the ship. She even took off her own life jacket and gave it to another passenger. She did not escape and was found dead on the day of the accident.

Kim, a 28-year-old part-time worker, and his girlfriend Jeong, a 28-year-old crew member, also went into the ship to save other passengers. They were both found dead on April 17.

Kim and Jeong dated for four years and were planning to marry in September.

The other heroes honored yesterday were Lee Jun-seok, an 18-year-old student who died while saving friends who were swept away by waves at a private military summer camp in July 2013, Oh Pan-seok, 60, and Park Chang-seob, 54, both truck drivers who were burned to death trying to prevent damage to trucks parked at a parking lot near a fire in Incheon in August 2012.

Authorities also recognized two people who injured themselves while helping others: Choi Seok-jun, 45, who extracted a driver from an overturned car on a highway before being hit by another passing car in March, and Park Jong-ho, 48, who suffered burns while saving a person who fell into a fire at a festival in February.

The ministry, however, postponed a decision on Lee Gwang-uk, a 53-year-old diver who died last Tuesday during the search and rescue mission at the Sewol ferry accident scene.

“We have received the application from the Namyangju City government,” said an official from the Health and Welfare Ministry, “but we requested more documents needed for the review. When we obtain the documents, we will resume the review for Lee.”

BY KIM BONG-MOON [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]

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