In America, rallies decry handling of ferry disaster

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In America, rallies decry handling of ferry disaster

Korean-Americans across major cities in the United States, including Washington, New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta, participated in rallies over the weekend criticizing the Korean government of its handling of the Sewol ferry disaster.

In Washington, about 120 people rallied in front of the Lincoln Memorial around 2 p.m. on Sunday after paying their respects to the victims of the accident. The group demanded that the Korean government take responsibility for the accident.

The demonstrations came ahead of President Park Geun-hye’s official apology yesterday morning in Seoul in a nationally televised address, which included an announcement detailing measures that would overhaul the national safety system.

A group of 150 people also protested in front of The New York Times building on Sunday in midtown Manhattan, with many wearing the yellow ribbon that has emerged as a symbol of support and condolence for the nation’s grieving families. Demonstrators lined most of the block and held up placards that read, “Bring the truth to light.”

They also chanted, “Bring our children back to life!”

Other protesters held up handwritten signs on yellow poster paper with a range of messages criticizing the government and media censorship. A few called for President Park to resign. Others expressed condolences for the victims, who were mostly high school students.

“We will remember you,” one read, and “It could have happened to me.”

Rally organizers in New York said that people in cities across 39 states participated in the rallies.

Near the Lincoln Memorial, members of Washington-based civilian groups - such as the Korean Freedom Alliance, a nonprofit organization advocating human rights in North Korea, and the Korean War Veterans Association - held a small counter-protest, demanding an “immediate halt in actions that cause division in the overseas community by using the Sewol disaster for political reasons.”

In regard to the rallies calling on the Korean government to take responsibility for the Sewol disaster, they wondered, “Is this really an action for the victims and their families?”

Missy USA, a lifestyle website for married Korean-American women that was responsible for The New York Times advertisement that ran earlier this month criticizing the Park administration, had a hand in organizing the rallies. Posters on the website coordinated rallies in different cities by time zone.

The Korean-American community ran a full-page advertisement in The New York Times last week called “Bring the Truth to Light,” in which they lashed out at the Park government for its poor handling of the disaster.

Missy USA helped raise more than $160,000 from more than 4,000 donors through a crowd-funding website.

BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]



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