Sewol memorial planned for Jindo

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Sewol memorial planned for Jindo

The Korean government will build a memorial complex at Paengmok Harbor in South Jeolla to emphasize safety and commemorate the victims of the tragic Sewol ferry disaster last year.

Paengmok Harbor, situated in Jindo County, is the closest port to where the vessel sank, and where many of the passengers’ relatives waited for word on their loved ones’ well-being following the incident.

The JoongAng Ilbo exclusively obtained on Monday details of the plan, drawn up by the Jindo County Office and the South Jeolla Provincial Government to build a memorial honoring the victims of the Sewol ferry, a project that will cost 25 billion won ($20.7 million).

A memorial park was initially in the works, though that plan was then expanded to include a memorial hall, an education center on safety and rescue training, and accommodations.

The construction of the memorial complex, which will cover 33,200 square meters (355 square feet), will begin in the second half of next year and is set for completion by 2017. It is scheduled to open its doors in early 2018.

Officials from the Jindo County and South Jeolla local governments said the plan was recently approved at a meeting of related agencies.

An official from the Jindo County Office told the JoongAng Ilbo on Monday, “The government determined that, rather than simply commemorating the victims, the safety memorial hall should be built so that the lesson of the Sewol sinking would be remembered and the importance of safety emphasized.”

The Sewol ferry sank in waters off Jindo County on April 16, 2014, the country’s worst maritime disaster that killed more than 300 people, mostly high school students.

An exhibition hall will display some 1,000 salvaged articles from the ship that are being preserved by Jindo County, as well as yellow ribbons - having come to symbolize the incident and its victims - left by mourners.

The county is also preparing white papers on the Sewol disaster, which will include interviews with the volunteers who helped with rescue efforts last year. A monument representing the victims will be installed at the memorial hall.

The education center will offer safety classes to the public and provide facilities for training for the Coast Guard and rescue workers. The Coast Guard has proper training grounds, and the center is expected to provide opportunities for simulation drills for various disaster scenarios.

The memorial park will include a tower-like sculpture in the shape of the yellow ribbon that symbolizes solidarity for the Sewol victims and their families. A memorial committee will review the plans from Jindo and South Jeolla and reach a final decision early next month.

Once the plan is approved by the committee, project details will be finalized by the end of the year.

“The plan was already shared with the committee, and opinions exchanged, so it is unlikely that there will be any big changes to enable the memorial hall to be built,” a Jindo official said.

BY KIM HO [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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