A great tragedy occurred in Korea on April 16, shocking not only every one of its citizens but also the world. Sewol, a ferry accommodating approximately 476 people, sank in the midst of the Yellow Sea close to Jindo while on its way to Jeju Island. To the dismay of all the anxiously-waiting citizens, only 174 people were safely rescued, the rest being deceased or missing. In order to commemorate this tragedy, Korean universities and students are taking various measures.
Fund-raising activities and postponement of festivals
After the occurrence of this national tragedy, University Student Unions organized fund-raisers to provide aid to the suffering people related to the accident. Along with these helpful movements, many Student Unions also announced their plans to cancel or postpone school festivals, which were originally scheduled to take place in late May.
Universities such as Hansung University, Sungshin Women’s University, University of Seoul (UOS), Seoul National University (SNU) and Sungkyunkwan University canceled their festivals completely. Some of these schools planned for other commemorative activities instead. Hansung University, for instance, held a bazaar and fund-raiser with the local residents, expecting to deliver the collected money to the victims of Sewol. SNU is planning to deliver necessities to the place of the accident through fund-raising activities.
“We cancelled our festival based on the proposals of students who were preparing for the festival,” said Yi Kyoung-hwan (Seoul National University, 4), the president of SNU’s Student Union. “Students requested for the discussion of cancelling the festival because they were too sad and depressed to get ready for it.”
Rather than simply deciding not to hold the festival, some other universities came up with the decision to either postpone or reduce it. Yonsei University reduced its four-day-festival to three days, and postponed its performance festival “Akaraka” from May to June. Kookmin University, Ewha Womans University and Chung-Ang University delayed their festivals to be held during the fall semester, and Dongguk University put off its festival provisionally as well.
These schools have been doing more than postponing festivals to support the Sewol incident. Yonsei has been sending relief goods supported by students to the district office of Jindo, every morning since April 18. Ewha Student Government Association had also raised 9 million won to donate for the purpose of aiding with psychological treatment of the survivors and funeral expenses of the deceased. Chung-Ang University had executed fund-raisers to help the victims and their families as well. Dongguk University and Kookmin University were among the alma maters of two teachers of Danwon High School, where the majority of the passengers were from. Thus, the universities have installed an incense altar within their campuses.
“We provided students the opportunity to cherish the memories of our deceased alumnus with the installation of the incense altar and a special separate place,” said Choi Chang-young (Kookmin University, 5), the president of Kookmin University’s Student Union. “We have also donated money to Danwon High School in the form of a scholarship, honoring our alumnus.”