‘Where are you, Ye-seul? I miss you so much’

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‘Where are you, Ye-seul? I miss you so much’

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Yoo Ji-eun, a classmate of 8-year-old Woo Ye-seul, who has been missing since Dec. 25, prays for the safe return of her friend yesterday at Myeonghak Elementary School in Anyang, Gyeonggi. By Ahn Seong-sik

ANYANG, Gyeonggi ― Children prayed, cried and tied yellow ribbons yesterday on trees on the grounds of Myonghak Elementary School here.
It was the first day back to school, but two girls were missing. Lee Hye-jin, 10, and Woo Ye-seul, 8, have not been seen since Christmas Day.
“Where are you, Ye-seul? I miss you so much. Please come back as soon as possible so we can hang out together,” read a yellow postcard resting on Ye-seul’s empty desk.
Friends of the 8-year-old girl gathered around the desk, praying with clasped hands.
“I am so sorry for her. I wanted to find her on my own, but adults stopped me,” said a sobbing Yoo Ji-eun, Ye-seul’s close friend.
“We did not put a flower bouquet on her desk because we believe that she will come back,” said Kim Ki-wook, Ye-seul’s homeroom teacher.
During a back-to-school ceremony yesterday, Lee Yoon-hyung, principal of the school, said “My heart aches because Hye-jin and Ye-seul couldn’t be here with us today.” He told the students to pray as often as possible for the girls’ return. He also emphasized that students should “be with a guardian when they go outside.”
After the ceremony, students pinned yellow ribbons with the words, “Lee Hye-jin, Woo Ye-seul. Back to mom and dad,” on their chest.
Teachers explained that yellow ribbons were a way to express the wish that someone would come home quickly.
Jang So-young, Hye-jin’s homeroom teacher, said, “The students are young, but they seem really shocked and hurt that their friends are missing.”
The two girls were last seen at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 25 near the Anyang Arts Center, according to the Anyang Police. Parents of the girls reported them missing to police on Dec. 26. No demand for ransom has been made to either family, according to police. Police issued an amber alert to try to find the girls. The city government has been conducting a nationwide search campaign.


By Choi Sun-wook JoongAng Ilbo [soejung@joongang.co.kr]

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