Artists commemorate the Sewol victims

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Artists commemorate the Sewol victims

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Sin Ho-seong’s room. By Yi Woo-gi. They left on Tuesday saying they would be back on Friday. Photographed above are the rooms of students who died in the Sewol ferry disaster while on their way to Jeju Island for a school trip. School uniforms are hung on racks, stuffed animals are placed neatly on beds and posters of boy bands decorate walls, as if waiting for the children to come back. The exhibition’s organizers say that although remembering is painful, their goal is to archive records related to the incident and the victims. Provided by 416 Archives

It has been a year since 304 of the 476 people aboard the Sewol ferry lost their lives when the ship sank, rocking the whole nation and leaving lasting emotional scars on the families and friends of the victims.

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Jeong Won-seok’s room. By Sung Dong-hoon / They left on Tuesday saying they would be back on Friday. Photographed above are the rooms of students who died in the Sewol ferry disaster while on their way to Jeju Island for a school trip. School uniforms are hung on racks, stuffed animals are placed neatly on beds and posters of boy bands decorate walls, as if waiting for the children to come back. The exhibition’s organizers say that although remembering is painful, their goal is to archive records related to the incident and the victims. Provided by 416 Archives

Twelve months after the fatal incident, members of the domestic cultural scene are hoping that those left behind can come closer to peace of mind through art. Songs, dances, poetry, plays and photography projects are attempting to portray the sorrow, anger, pain and grief that the friends and families of the victims are going through.

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Park Ye-seul’s room. By Jeom Jom-ppae/ They left on Tuesday saying they would be back on Friday. Photographed above are the rooms of students who died in the Sewol ferry disaster while on their way to Jeju Island for a school trip. School uniforms are hung on racks, stuffed animals are placed neatly on beds and posters of boy bands decorate walls, as if waiting for the children to come back. The exhibition’s organizers say that although remembering is painful, their goal is to archive records related to the incident and the victims. Provided by 416 Archives

First, 16 photographers are presenting 110 photos of the rooms of the Danwon High School students who did not survive the disaster, as well as some of their belongings, in “The Children’s Room” exhibition.

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Jeong Ye-jin’s room. By Kim Min-ho/ They left on Tuesday saying they would be back on Friday. Photographed above are the rooms of students who died in the Sewol ferry disaster while on their way to Jeju Island for a school trip. School uniforms are hung on racks, stuffed animals are placed neatly on beds and posters of boy bands decorate walls, as if waiting for the children to come back. The exhibition’s organizers say that although remembering is painful, their goal is to archive records related to the incident and the victims. Provided by 416 Archives

Of the 304 dead, 250 were juniors from the school based in Ansan, Gyeonggi, who were on their way to Jeju Island on a school excursion.

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Left: The belongings of the student Kim Do-eon, taken by photographers Jo Jin-seop and Jo U-hye. Right: A mobile phone owned by the student Im Kwon-u by photographer Lee Jae-gak.

“Since the incident, archive experts and civilians have been working on compiling records [on the Sewol],” Kwon Yong-chan, a representative of the civic group 416 Archives said. “The exhibition is the first tangible outcome of such efforts.”

The rooms in the photos show school uniforms hung on racks; stuffed animals placed neatly on beds; and posters of boy bands decorating walls, as if they are waiting for the children to come back. A 2014 calendar emphasizes how time stopped for the teens who lived in these rooms.

The exhibition is being simultaneously held at four different venues across the country - in Ansan, Jeju Island, the Ryugaheon gallery in Jongno District, central Seoul and Gwanghwamun Plaza, also in central Seoul, between April 2 and May 31. The exhibition periods differ by venue.

Namsan Arts Center has also organized a performance to commemorate the souls of the dead and the lasting effects left on their loved ones.

“Deluge,” which will take place between April 16 and 25, portrays the power of water with sounds and movement - both the power to save and the power to destroy.

The Seoul Theater Association has also planned the performance “I will remember. I won’t forget” at Marronnier Park in Daehangno, central Seoul, as well as the monodrama “To Ye-seul” and the recital “To My Child” as a dedication to the disaster.

“Bucketlist of a 17-Year-Old,” a concert that will be held at Rolling Hall near Hongik University, central Seoul, will also commemorate the Sewol victims.

ADHD, a school band one of the victims, Park Su-hyeon, was a member of, has prepared the concert as it was on his bucketlist for the group to give 20 performances.

In Ansan - where many people are reportedly suffering from depression and trauma after the incident - about 10 of the 61 performances planned for the Ansan Street Arts Festival will deal with the pain left over from the disaster. It runs from May 1 to 3.

The literary circle is also doing what it can. Poets such as Na Hee-deok, Kim Seon-u and Lee Yeong-gwang are volunteering at therapy centers in Ansan. One of the programs has the writers penning poems for those close to the victims to recite during their birthdays.

“What the bereaved families want to hear the most is that the children are doing good,” Poet Na said. “Some families also ask for a poem with a positive tone so that they can almost hear the children’s voices through them.”

Books on the tragic day are also being released, including a compilation of testimonies from the bereaved families, “Please Come Back on Friday,” the essay “Nation of the Blind,” and the poetry book “We Were All Sewol Ferry.”


BY LEE JI-YOUNG, KIM HYUNG-EUN [kim.hyungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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