S Korea ferry disaster: Memorial hall in S'pore for victims

S Korea ferry disaster: Memorial hall in S'pore for victims
Korean Women's Association (Singapore) president Yoo Hyun Suk (left) and vice-president Kim Tae Lyeong leaving white chrysanthemums on the altar at the memorial hall.

SINGAPORE - A memorial hall has been set up for the victims of the April 16 Sewol ferry disaster by the Korean Association in Singapore, for the public to pay their respects, offer prayers and donate money to the affected families.

Several leaders of the Korean community in Singapore - which has grown in numbers from less than 15,000 just five years ago to more than 25,000 today - were among the first to visit the memorial during its sombre opening yesterday at the association's Tanjong Pagar Road quarters.

They included Korean Ambassador to Singapore Suh Chung Ha and Asiana Airlines' regional general manager Edward Kim. Also present were the heads of smaller Korean organisations and companies keen on contributing to the fund-raising efforts, as well as expatriate housewives.

The mourners penned condolences and words of encouragement to the families, laid white chrysanthemums at an altar, in Korean mourning tradition, and lit joss sticks in silent prayers.

Many who spoke to The Straits Times said they still held out hope that some of the ill-fated ferry's passengers would be found alive two weeks after its sinking, but a large banner hanging in the hall called for peace for the victims.

Many were outraged and fiercely critical of the actions of the ferry crew and the government, saying that South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong Won's resignation on Sunday had done little to appease the people.

"It's unbelievable that the crew could have abandoned the passengers and left before all were evacuated," said Korean Association president James Jeong.

"The government's reaction was also too slow, too little."

The memorial hall and donation box are open to all from 9am to 9pm on weekdays and from 10am to 5pm on weekends from now until May 9.

hpeishan@sph.com.sg

This article was published on April 30 in The Straits Times.

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