262 COMMENTS

The following blog post might be a little scatterbrained due to the difficulty of handling this topic. For those of you that don’t know, on April 16th, 2014 while heading to Jeju from Incheon, the Sewol Ferry capsized and sunk while carrying 476 people, mostly secondary school students from Danwon High School located in Ansan City. Around 150 people managed to escape the ferry, but the rest remained trapped in the ship. Divers are still entering the boat but at this point it is no longer seen as a rescue mission, but instead a mission to retrieve the bodies and bring them back to their grieving families.

We, like most people, feel very helpless about the ferry disaster since all we can do is sit and watch the tragic events unfold. We’ve felt hope that people could be rescued at first, and then we lost that hope with every passing day. The families, schools, and friends of all those on the ferry will never be the same again, and this giant loss of life will continue to negatively affect all those touched by this event even after the bodies are found and laid to rest.

We also know this horrible loss has affected many people around the world, not just those living in Korea. Martina and her mom have been exchanging emails and text messages everyday, and even though Martina’s mom isn’t in Korea she, along with Martina, have shed many tears over this tragic loss of life. We mentioned briefly in the video that we have two close friends that lived in Ansan and taught students at those schools, and they are total emotional wrecks. They’ve already attended over three funerals in one day and as we talk to them on the phone it’s clear how helpless they feel as well.

Even though we’re geographically closer than most people are to the scene of the incident, we are in many ways still in the dark. I’ve even heard it said from some people that international coverage of the event is more accurate and have been given examples of such. We’ve been reading a lot of the news about what’s happening. Different news portals, even different forums, all are posting about what’s happening. And every day, some nugget of info we got from the day before dissipates, and new morsels of info are given to us, but we’re a lot more skeptical to bite.

For us, we can read about it and think about it all we want, but we can’t really talk about it publicly. Why? Because we don’t want to be spreading false information. We’re not a news channel. They can easily get their stories wrong and then just go back on air and apologize, rinse and repeat, but us posting videos on YouTube isn’t the same. Once our video’s out there, there’s no Ctrl+Z button. It’s really difficult to undo. And we’re aware that our audience is a bit bigger than that of an online forum, so we’d rather be really careful about something as sensitive as this. Does that make sense? I’m not sure. I just really don’t want to do what the media’s doing, but I want to be able to talk about what’s happening as well, and to explain how serious it is here in South Korea now as a result.

If any of you do know a good charity or something we can donate to, please let us know. We’ve been looking on our end, but it’s really difficult to vet an organization for this. There are bad people out there, some of whom are taking advantage of this situation. I’m not saying not to trust anyone. I’m just asking to be a bit more cautious. We’ll keep you updated if we find any way that anyone can help.

Tomorrow we’re posting a happier video. It’s not of us being silly and goofing around and being insensitive at this time. It’s actually a very big announcement we’re going to make. Perhaps the biggest of our YouTube lives. I know at this time it’s tough to be happy, but hopefully tomorrow we can make some people smile, which is – really – all we hope to do with these videos. If we pass on bits of information along the way as well, fantastic. Most of the time, though, we just want to have fun and make you guise laugh with us as well.

ToFebruary
  1. Jeanne Beck

    Thank you, Simon, for posting this very important TLDR. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends. This past weekend the International Home Church in Seoul had a fundraiser to benefit this scholarship that foreigners in Korea are making for the students of Danwon High School. http://www.crowdrise.com/foreignersinsympathywithsewoldisasterscholarship/fundraiser/skinsk It’s a small gesture, but if it can help give hope to one needy student from this school then it’ll be worth it.

  2. DfranchiseD

    You could visit or just talk with your friend teachers. It seems like teachers were currently covering classes normally to drag other students from their suffer to normal life. It might be very stressful and painful. Thanks Simon, your video was one of the few proper videos for me related to the ferry accident.

  3. Seattle Yeshe

    My heart goes out to everyone affected by this tragedy and to all of South Korea as they grief the loss of so many.

  4. MeredithoHIo

    I understand from today’s news, the Prime Minister has resigned, taking ownership in not preventing this tragedy and the way it was initially handled. I’m curious how this action is being received. My deepest condolences to all the people of South Korea, especially the families and friends of those that lives were needlessly and preventably cut short. I only hope that like many national tragedies, it brings positive change and unification.

  5. In Ukraine news,like in Russia news the same situation as in Korea… So I understand what you mean…This is a tragedy for South Korea…and for all…because many people died…pray for South Korea..

  6. Ariel Timar

    It might be cruel to say, but tragedies like these usually don’t move me. Maybe it’s because they’re so distant, but sometimes they feel more like a horrible plot to a book I’m reading rather than an actual event that happened in this world.
    But this incident actually affected me: Watching your channel makes Korea very real for me, and realizing that so many lives were just lost, just like that, made me sick to the stomach… Thank you so much for making this video. I was hoping you guys would do some coverage on this event, and I hope that we’ll be able to find the facts soon.

  7. I would like the entire process redone to include the tilting of the ship but not on water. Timing and everything. Obviously not several hundred people on board. Would asking the passengers to move be more dangerous at the angle the ship was at causing panic? Would it have realistically evacuated the ship? This is starting to remind me of the K drama the King and I where everyone, their boss, they coworkers, and their family are blamed for something that wasn’t everyone’s fault. Maybe just a few people or completely made up to blame the cause of something awful on. I appreciate their need to keep people in country for investigation and even protection from suicide attempts. And freeze funds. But they are even going after the guys grandkids who are abroad. What on a earth would the grandkid in another country know about a specific ferry? I don’t know why there is this notion that the rescuers, off the ship, botched anything? Just cause not everyone survived means they did anything wrong. In fact one diver died and where is the support for his family? Maybe there were no dry air pockets? I don’t think the crew was responsible for the sinking. Perhaps the evacuation. Time and clear thinking will see if they were trying to minimize injuries or just not brave enough. If my steering wheel has a defect and they altered my car and they messed up my airbags only allowing for the drivers side to deploy and I go off the road and the car rolls it is not my fault the manufacturer didn’t have that passenger airbag to protect my passenger or that I went off the road cause the steering messed up or that the car rolled because of the changes to the car that made it too high and not able to handle a typical turn. It is also not my fault for surviving. What if I told the person not to move I’d get help and then the car burst into flames. I was trying to prevent a neck injury by not moving them. They might have survived without breaking their neck or further injury if I had tried to peel them from the car, but my intentions were not malicious and it was a reasonable thing to wait for help. Will being out for blood from everyone make anyone feel better?

    I did wonder if it was the do as your told culture that made so many remain in their cabin, presumably. But in the US during an emergency you are supposed to follow instructions. In fact not following directions on a plane could result in a not so pleasant conversation with agents and arrest. So I think in North America many would have followed instructions too long and perish. I wonder if that made teachers less likely to counter the orders since they were not their kids. If something had happened to those children and they were shown not to follow orders then there would be anger and punishment.

  8. andrea chan
    andrea chan

    When you mentioned that this accident does not speak about the whole of the country, I completely agree. I came across this article that I found to be worth the read, and urge those who are interested in the Korean culture to do so: http://sweetpicklesandcorn.wordpress.com/2014/04/25/the-wests-confucian-confusion-how-more-confucianism-might-have-saved-the-sewol/

    Having been brought up by Chinese parents, lived with traditional grandparents, and taught in Korea for a year, I know falial piety and how it works within many situations, and I think the adults really have let the children down with all that they’ve done (or haven’t). Deepest condolences aside, I wish that investigation will continue to find out the reason for the ship to capsize, because it feels that there’s more of a back story than a third mate making the wrong turn. There needs to be better media coverage about this. But I have a hunch that the poor media coverage may or may not have to do with what some people want to hide with this accident (use of a ship unfit for sail, off-the-record renovations that may have caused the ship to be unbalanced, incompetence of ship examinations, etc…)(though none of that may be true, sources from BBC News).

    Regardless, my heart mourns with those who mourn over the loss of their brother, sister, daughter, son, father, mother, teacher, guardian, respected elder, and so on. And I hope that the truth in its entirety comes to light soon. Take care Simon and Martina, Soozee and Leigh, Spudgy and Meemers).

  9. Karen Hatlestad

    Here are some of the stories from the Minneapolis, MN Star Tribune.
    They did a good job finding Associated Press Articles, and even
    representing the families well. The new news is that the ferry was way
    over cargo capacity (estimated 3,608 tons of cargo instead of 987 tons
    after it was modified in 2012-13, even higher than the original limit of
    2,437 tons before modification!). http://www.startribune.com/world/256477901.html?page=1&c=y
    The other new news is that President Obama is in Korea and will give a magnolia from the White House to Danwon High School.
    http://www.startribune.com/world/256649171.html?page=2&c=y
    The
    news here was repetitive (instead of fake), only updating the totals and is coverage is
    slowing. the Korea Disaster Relief Association & the high school
    seem to be the orgs collecting donations. #prayersforkorea
    Also, this disaster was compared to the Italian cruise ship disaster, which was similar (captain abandoning ship) – no judgements on either Korean or Italian culture. Only praise the Korea actually has the (land) laws to immediately arrest the crew that abandoned the passengers. If only the coast guard person talking them through it had realized they were stupid enough to send the passengers to the middle & bottom of the ship.

  10. Sara Suzanne Berg

    This really is so sad… The thing that I find difficult is that because of this, fieldtrips and school events have been cancelled for all other schools and students.
    As a teacher I asked my students if they are doing something IN PLACE of those or just having regular classes… And most are just having regular classes (therefore equating national loss with personal loss). I feel like there should be presentations on how to handle grief, time and moments to mourn the loss of all those lives, and maybe even gathering together as a class to make things for those who have lost so much.
    One class could easily make something… a blanket.. for the families. I don’t know what a blanket could accomplish, but it’s just a thought. You know what I mean?
    It’s really… so sad. :(

  11. I’ve heard through the news that Hanyang University started a donation drive to help out the families of the victims of the Sewol Ferry.

  12. I hope I will not sound mean, since it seems to be a very delicate topic, but I really wanted to say this for a long time. I wanted to COMMENT on all the commotion going around about music, Tv shows and comebacks being postponed.
    I share and understand the decision of many stations on not airing many of their shows, and I respect how the music companies are showing their condolences by avoiding promotions, at least in a way through these actions and the prayers sent from all over the world (including me), these families will get the closure the government has not been able to provide (even though it has been more than a week already!).
    What pisses me off, is that due to the negligence, not only of whoever caused this accident, and the tragedy that followed, and even the press and government, the entertainment industry does not even know when they will be able to resume activities, which I believe could affect some other events happening later this year.
    If whoever is, and has been, in charge of working on the rescue operations where more efficient, not only more lives could have been saved, but this devastating event would not have been prolonged the way it has!
    I really hope that all this nightmare for the families will end soon, and that whoever is causing a delayed on these operations, will act more respectfully not only to these families but the people of Korea, who are willingly waiting for better and more hopeful news.

  13. Julia Smith

    This is such a horrible tragedy, but what topped it off was the horrible captain. Giving those students false directions and then saving himself. I am in no way familiar with certain laws, especially Korean laws, but I hope that he gets reprimanded for what he did. Like charging him with involuntary manslaughter or something and be thrown in jail.

  14. The first time I knew about what happened was actually the day of the accident but it was a few hours later after it happened unfortunately I couldn’t actually know what was going on because I was in school and when I was about to read the article I had to leave. Three days after that I watched KBS news and actuallt found out what happened I was shocked and couldn’t believe it. It makes me, mad as well as others that the news over here in the US dosent seem to care about this xtremely heartbreaking event >.< I cant believe also that the chances of knowing that at least one or two survivors (although I wish it was more) are all well in a better place :( Ive cried over this event like a lot of other people even though Im not Korean either but knowing that those guys were mostly students breaks my heart. I keep praying for the families of the victims as well as the whole S.K, nation to go back to happier times and for the fallen to be in a better place. South K. FIGHTING!!!

  15. Vivian Nguyen

    Hi everybody. I have started a project (deardanwon.tumblr.com) with the help my friend. I am collecting letters, either short or long, to send to the students, family members, faculty, and anybody affected by the Sewol Ferry accident. The students at the high school who didn’t go on the trip are coming back to an empty school with a quarter of their class missing. Families have lost their sons or daughters. All they need is love and support for this tragic accident so just a simple note will be good.
    I will be sending these letters to Danwon High School in Korea and hopefully these messages will make a difference in someone’s life.
    If you are interested in sending a letter and joining this project, please check out our tumblr post on how to get involved!
    http://deardanwon.tumblr.com/post/83704944041/dear-danwon-a-letter-project.
    It would be great if you could also reblog and share the project! I want many people to be involved to show how the world can come together!

    Messages do not have to be translated into Korean. And it would be best if you mail the letter to me. I’m trying to collect as many letters and notes as possible to send over to Korea.
    I would like to have a good chunk of the letters sent in by the end of next week (due to overseas shipping and what not)
    Thank you!

  16. Seriously, that reminds me so much of my lecturer. I’m a trainee in media design image and sound and lots of times I argue with my lecturer when it’s about nif’s (news in film) and stuff like that. Her opinion is “sometimes you need to lie for a good story”. She would definitely be one of the people who would make up a story just to have something to say about this incident. I could tell you sooooo many examples about false information in German television. Like there was this one time, where they said gamer are ugly, lazy people who live in their own world. It was also the same with the news about the Sewol. Everything they brought up in the news were the same wrong information that also korea and the rest of the world got and each day they would bring new wrong informations and say that the old one where false. I also don’t undertand why they (german news programms) have people in Tokyo talking about the incident and not in Korea.

  17. I’m a world away and a complete stranger, but my heart aches for Korea. The people involved in this horrific tragedy are in my prayers…

  18. Meghen James

    Have we heard of any place to donate to yet? Any organizations that are helping the families? Possibly helping to pay for their hotel costs while they wait? Anything like this?

  19. You should be able to find it on Facebook, in any of the expat groups, there was a woman called Sarah, from Jindo, taking donations for the families and loved ones camping out there.

  20. Cyber_3

    I would have commented earlier, but I am having compy issues. Simon, this was a great video, I was hoping/waiting for it and it was heartwarming that you had the courage to do it. I can tell from how choppy the editing is that it was really difficult to deliver, you did well, my friend. I’m on the other side of the world and this tragedy is completely heart-rending, I have shed many tears and I don’t know a mother in town that hasn’t. To lose your child like this, to know not only that your child died, but that they were scared and maybe even alone and helpless is a parent’s worst nightmare. That it was obviously preventable just makes me foam at the mouth in anger and disgust. Keep strong and give lots of hugs. I hope that you feel better soon Martina.

  21. Nikko Carisma

    I’m also very sad and frustrated over this incident, in a sense of what’s actually happening and how we can actually help.

    This incident reminds me of the tourist hostage that happened in Manila around 2010. Even though it didn’t involve as much people as the Sewol incident, the crappy coverage the news companies made on this seemed very similar with all the sensationalism going on like sending false text messages and stuff.

    They should follow after you guys! You do your fact-checking before filming videos so we can see as accurate an image of Korean life as possible.

    Furthermore, people around the world want to help in one way or another. Remember the recent Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts? There were SO MANY organizations, individuals and countries working together to help! No human’s life is worth less than another’s, so why can’t everyone similarly help each other on this? It could’ve saved a lot more lives.

    Thanks for the update, guys! I’m looking forward to that awesome announcement tomorrow! :D

  22. TehMeh

    This whole thing reminds me of an old case study I had in my international management class, where Korean airlines had a huge problem with their airplanes having more accidents then all other airlines. So they checked the black box and it was found that because Korean culture strongly believes in respecting older people, the young co-pilot was busy trying to be polite to the pilot rather than telling the pilot his altitude was too low, which resulted in the crash. This was later fixed in the pilot training programs for Korean pilots.

    This whole ferry thing makes me wonder if there was a first mate who could have done something, but was busy being polite. Also the students were probably just doing as they were told, and they may have ended up dead because of it. All in all its just so sad, I wish one of the students or teachers went against trusting the ferryman and actually said something or did something. Maybe they did and we don’t know it yet.

    I feel like listening to minority report (the pillows) now….

  23. Laura Poole
    Laura Poole

    It is very sad and I feel for all of those that are affected even in the 3rd party context as I too am going through my own problems. I also feel and understand about the mass media. They lie alot in order for things to run a certain way which is horrible. For example, here in the UK there’s been alot of racism going on and the local and mass media have homed in on it and made it worse so that certain parties in government will become more popular. Also tragedies here can be covered over and truths hidden or altered…. This I know can and has happened to all mass media around the world so I tend not to watch so much and figure out the truth by myself.

    As for CNN and FOX debate i’m gonna have to say both twist truths and I don’t trust either. Especially this morning here in the UK about russian “bomber plane” near our boarders being “chased” away by our planes… Truth is a Russian observer plane was nearby but respected our boarders and was escorted side by side with our planes… Can you see how much difference there is to the meanings and how much negativity it causes when mass media get hold of information?

    So yea… There’s me going on. :P

    So yea. In essence I feel for all those in the disaster and advise not to believe in everything that is being said in mass media. :)

  24. Cathy Lawrence

    What is the proper statement online to express our sympathies and let them know we are praying for them? I’ve read conflicting post, some say “it’s disrespectful…” but didn’t say why. I expressed my sympathies indirectly to someone out there he glossed over it and acted unrelated and carried on as if nothing happened. School shootings here in the U.S. devastate us all to tears, candlelight memorials, and even protest to ban guns if we need to. These people lost OVER 300 PRECIOUS CHILDREN (and you can’t tell me there were no adults lost because we know how teachers are!) and we can’t express we’re praying? Right now this is all we can do. Please let them know we care and teach us how to respect them from abroad.

  25. DaYoung Yun
    DaYoung Yun

    Thank you for the 2vs.1 — I know it is not related but this has helped out my family for the Sewol Ferry Accident. I’m at the receiving end and my parents barely found out about it three days ago when I told them about it after finding out through several kpop blog sites.
    None of my relatives in S.Korea did not call to us in the U.S. either but I hope that is a good sign that none of my cousins were in the accident. So far everything is in the clear.
    2 vs. 1 is helping a lot for my parents who are still in shock that this has happened. We are still scrambling for information because we have yet to hear from our close friends and how they are doing.
    So in conclusion,

    —–Even though there are spiteful people on the Internet,

    ————1. we are grateful for those who are helping at the site right now

    ————2. and that there are human beings not just staring at a glowing screen and looking for scandals about the event but going out there and taking action in this time

    Thank y’all seriously for posting this video up.

  26. iamawesome

    big announcement? maybe martina is not sick from food poisoning, but is preggo! LOL im sorry, i just really wanted to lighten the mod :/

  27. It is sad to know that these kids obey the commands given to stay put and don’t move … even though the ship was already sinking maybe it has to do with their culture but it is just heartbreaking. my sincere condolences to the victim’s families

  28. Lillie Lane

    That video and that blogpost were amazing, Simon. You said and handled it beautifully.

  29. Serena Gafapasta

    Here, the TV news that I usually see, talks about the desinformation in the firts moments and then, when deadbodies start to be rescued, about the victim’s families are claiming for the action of police and rescue teams. They explains that the rescue is so slow, even with the bad sea conditions, and when they visit the area only saw people moving arround without doing nothing. In the other hand, they interviewed one rescue team member and explains that they need cranes because the boat is so deep. But the general message in news was impotence, two-hundred people in the boat and anybody could do nothing.

  30. I remember taking a plane ride from Busan to Jeju-do. Easily as this boat sank, a plane can crash. It’s not the easiest thing to talk about when you have someone you know who could have been involved and you wondered if they were there and if they were rescued. Worse case scenario, it was your own child.

    I don’t think we’ll get very good closure with this, similar to the missing plane from back in March, because the media will not cover the appropriate views. As well they may not have the correct information thus making it more agonizing with processing the information. There was an article I saw on Facebook about the financial status of the students’ family playing a role in how quick help would be there. What a horrible thought! But here it is: http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_national/634016.html

    It is an emotionally sad time for Korea so prayers to all the families.

  31. It’s frustrating that news stations not only in Korea, but here in the US aren’t providing accurate reports on this tragic event. I usually watch Nightline or World News but is there info even accurate?? where are they getting it from? if it’s from Korean news outlets, are they accurate as well? like, who are we supposed to trust if news stations aren’t providing us accurate details.

  32. For starters, Martina, I hope you get well soon :(
    Now, I just want to thank you for posting this video, because I know it must have been hard.
    As you said before, when a tragic event like this takes place, you don’t want to be the one spreading false information.
    By posting this video on Youtube, I think you have been able to let people (all around the world) know more about this event and the current situation, and for that I want to thank you. Though I’m not Korean, as a Korean person living in Australia, it’s good to hear from you (a person who is in Korea) about what’s happening- because I can trust it much, much more than what some news articles are saying.
    Ooh, and lastly, thank you for being people who can make us laugh but also people who know when it isn’t the time to laugh and be funny. I know it’s people’s jobs to be entertaining and they may feel pressured to always show positive and entertaining things, but anyway…thank you :)

  33. Super well-handled both in the video and blogpost!! ^^ m/

    I really hope everyone finds closure from this soon… :(

    Kudos to EYK, can’t wait for more positive material coming up, get well soon Martina <3

  34. Gracie グレイス

    Think you did a wonderful job of informing the seriousness of this topic without stating stuff without hard facts. I truly hope everyone who is related to this tragic event finds peace of mind soon.

  35. GerbilCake

    That was actually really well handled Simon. Thank you for the update and for staying diplomatic and level headed about the whole thing.

    Also get well soon Martina. Lots of love <3

  36. guys.
    guys.
    youtube lives is different to personal lives.
    after stalking the comments section here, martina aint pregnant.
    simon has spoken.
    wait is spudgy getting his own youtube channel-
    /bricked

  37. Although this is a sad event, we have to try to be positive, not happy, but think that those people have people who loved them, they may be gone now, but people die everyday. It’s not exactly positive, but they are in a better place, God bless, and those who can please pray.

  38. Thank you for the video & humanising the news reports.
    I was very affected by this video, my city experienced a tragedy a few years ago, hearing Simon talk I suddenly remembered how it awful it felt.
    My thoughts are with South Korea during this difficult time

  39. Susie

    My parents have been talking about this non-stop, especially because my cousin’s a tutor that teaches many students in the Ansan district. I don’t think any of her students were victims of the tragedy, but it’s still deeply affected her because she really loves her students and just the thought of something happening to them without her being able to help them really breaks her heart.

    I turned the news on this morning and there was a photo of the countless memorials outside of the highschool but what really got me most was the empty classrooms and desks. Just… so many. Like, ROOMS of empty classrooms and desks. I can’t imagine being a staff-member or student of that school where over a hundred students just disappeared one day (apparently the vice-principal supposedly in charge of the trip killed him/herself). Things like this just shouldn’t be happening to anyone.

    Can’t even think about the captain without feeling sick to my stomach.

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