April 16, 2014. En route from Incheon to Jeju Island, South Korea, the MV Sewol capsizes with 476 people on board, many of them teenage students on a field trip. According to first reports – initially from Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), then by other news organisations and officials – the students, from Danwan High School (Ansan City), have all been rescued. This information that turns out to be false: 304 of the passengers, including 250 students, die in the disaster. Among the survivors are the captain and many other crew members – 22 of the 29 on board.
The grief of the victims’ families – the 4/16 Sewol families – soon mingles with frustration and anger – at the botched rescue attempts, at the media’s misreporting, at the government’s response.
In May 2016, Gyounggeun Yoo (유 경근, ‘Yae-un appa’) and Kyunghee Yoon (윤경희, ‘Shee-yeon omma’), two parent members of the 4/16 Sewol Families for Truth and Safer Society, as well as Seung Ryoul Park (박 승렬) and Hyunju Park (박 현주), campaigners from Coalition 4.16 on the Sewol Ferry Disaster, spent almost a fortnight in Europe, hoping to reach out to others about their continued struggle for truth and justice. Travelling to Germany (Munich, Bochum, Berlin), the Vatican Republic, Belgium (Brussels), the UK (London, Liverpool) and France (Paris), the trip came a few weeks after the second anniversary of the MV Sewol’s sinking. It included meetings with human rights campaigners, local Sewol support groups and victims of similar disasters.