Reparation process set to begin for ferry victims

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Reparation process set to begin for ferry victims

The government said on Wednesday that it will begin providing compensation to the victims of the tragic Sewol ferry disaster, which claimed the lives of more than 300 people last year.

The ship capsized on April 16, 2014, near Jindo, South Jeolla, with the majority of its passengers still onboard - most of them students from Danwon High School who were on a class trip. It had departed from Incheon just a day earlier. Search and rescue authorities were able to retrieve the remains of 295 dead, while nine remain unaccounted for.

As a part of a special bill related to the ferry’s sinking, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said on Wednesday that compensation will amount to about 420 million won ($380,000) for each deceased student and an average of about 760 million won for each teacher who perished in the accident.

Compensation includes the expected future earnings of the victim, repayment for the victim’s belongings, reparations for the accident and an additional sum for the delay in payment, the ministry said.

Reparations for other accident victims are expected to vary between 150 and 600 million won, largely depending on the amount of their expected future earnings.

Public donations will also be distributed among the victims’ families.

“In past instances where there has been a tragedy, after excluding the expenses needed to establish a foundation [to represent the victims and their families], about 60 to 70 percent of the donations have been distributed to the victims,” said Park Gyeong-cheol, the ministry’s compensation review committee chairman. “The amount in donations given to each victim this time will be about 300 million won.”

The students from Danwon High School were jointly insured for 100 million won when they set out on their trip, and most of the families have reportedly already received the insurance money.

Including insurance, the relatives of the student victims are expected to receive a total of about 820 million won in compensation. Park added that the teachers who died in the accident had their own insurance, with their survivors receiving 80 million won each.

The government is also compensating those who suffered damages due to the resulting oil leak from the ferry and the loss of cargo in the accident.

Fishermen residing in the region off the southwestern coast may apply for compensation. Those who participated in the search and rescue mission are to be indemnified according to their daily catch or revenue, and those who have suffered drops in their sales or revenue can be compensated.

The Sewol ferry had 1,415 tons of cargo loaded onto it as well as 185 vehicles, none of which has yet to be claimed.

The ministry expects it will need 140 billion won, which includes 130 billion won for personnel compensation and 10 billion won for other compensation. It plans to repay those costs from assets seized from the late businessman Yoo Byung-eun, the de facto owner of the Sewol ferry, and his family, who have been held accountable for the tragedy.

“The intent of the special bill is to help the relatives of the victims and those who were injured in the accident return to their daily lives as soon as possible,” Park explained.

According to the bill, the deadline to apply for compensation is Sept. 28.

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

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