Prayer Vigil held for victims of Sewol ferry tragedy in South Korea.

May 29, 2014

On May 20, Korean pastors, families and friends gathered at Boston University’s Marsh Chapel for a prayer vigil and public witness after the Sewol Ferry tragedy in South Korea. It was a time of reflecting on the tragedy, its causes, and the brave souls lost. Dozens of clergy from the Korean diaspora and friends signed a statement of repentance, remembrance, and a call for accountability.

Read the statement below. 

View the statement in Korean and English languages.

View the full photo gallery from the vigil.

A Statement by Pastors about the Sewol Ferry Tragedy in South Korea 

May 23, 2014 

1. We repent of our sin for not living in the world as children of the light, but of the darkness, colluding in the greed and spiritual blindness of the world. We repent of our sin for not working towards attaining the kin(g)dom of God/reign of God where justice flows like a river, but rather being drawn into the drift of the world. We repent of having not spoken prophetically while witnessing our mother country South Korea sunk deeper into political authoritarianism, materialism and protectionism. 

2. We remember the victims of the recent Sewol ferry disaster and continue to pray for their grieving families. A life of human being is nobler than anything in the world as God’s creation. We earnestly pray that God will wipe away the tears from the eyes of victims’ family for losing their loved ones and comfort their mourning hearts. 

3. We must not forget those who lived honorable lives as the stars in the sky, who sacrificed their own noble lives to save others in the midst of the catastrophic sinking of the Sewol ferry. These names will be remembered forever: Crew members, Park Jee Young, Jeong Hyun-seon, and Kim Ki-woong and Yang Dae-hong, a chief officer; Teachers of Danwon High School, Nam Yun-cheol, Choi Hye-jeong and Jeon Soo-young; and Danwon High School student, Jeong Cha-woong. 

4. The pain and suffering of families who have lost the beloved one to the ferry tragedy can be neither easily forgotten or healed. We demand the Park Administration to consider its citizens with highest significance and to fulfill its responsibility to comfort their pain and relieve their suffering and that both the Park Administration and the commercial interests operating the ferry company be held responsible for their malfeasance. 

5. Even after the official statement of apology made by President Park, we have no confidence in the sincerity of her words. Rather than a desire for a thorough investigation leading to a truthful response, we see an attempt to shift the blame away from herself and her administration. We see no desire to eliminate the structural evils, but rather an attempt to assuage public opinion and dilute criticism by raising false issues. We see no desire to apologize for trying to control the press. Instead, she is trying to deflect attention from the endemic corruption by appointing her own person as the chairperson of the Korean Communications Commission. We demand positive efforts that reflect true sincerity and that substantiate the truth of the recent apology to the public. Deeds, not words. 

6. We ask for unlimited liability of President Park, to resign from the presidency for failing to fulfill her duties and responsibilities entrusted by the people in the aftermath of the ferry tragedy. At this point, President Park ought to concretely admit her responsibilities and to apologize for the governments’ incompetence and irresponsibility. 

7. We demand resignation of the Cabinet for failing in its duties and responsibilities in the aftermath of the ferry disaster. 

8. The recent tragedy was a result of an evil social structure which protects selfish groups who seek profits solely for themselves and their company, while dishonoring human lives. Furthermore, the tragedy was made worse by wasting plenty of rescue opportunities, lacking adequate emergency protocols, inadequate training of ship personnel, and prioritizing profits over human lives. We demand the truth to be told about this incident. We demand changing of thoughts and behaviors of the bureaucrats of the South Korean government, businesses and leaders of the Korean society, so that our society will be restructured to one that prioritizes the sanctity and security of all human lives. 

9. We request an immediate end to the Park Administration’s control over the media, press control, and all actions of manipulating the public opinion to suppress the public’s freedom of speech, and to ensure the freedom of the press guaranteed by the Constitution. 
Rev. Jung Sun Oh & Myung Kang, Rev. Jong Sun Lim & Eun Young Choi, 
Rev. Shinhyung Ahn & Sukhyang Kim, Pastor Yunki Kim & Hyoeun Song, 
Rev. Sang Churl Bae, Rev. Seok Cheol Shin, Rev. Byungmoo Lee, Rev. Yoo Cha Yi, 
Rev. Jong Wook Hong, Rev. Sunmin Cho, Rev. Jaegil Lee, Rev. Hyuk Seonwoo, 
Rev. Donald Rudalevige, Suzanne Rudalevige, Rev. Vicki Wood: Co-President of the Methodist Federation of Social Action (MFSA) Washington D.C., 
Rev. Robert Moore & Evelyn Johnson Moore, Rev. Eric Dupee, Rev. Leigh Dry, 
Rev. Jane Lawrence, Rev. Laurel Scott, Rev. David Martin, Rev. Christina Wright: Co-President of Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA) Washington D.C., Chett Pritchett : Executive Director of Methodist Federation for Social Action : MFSA (Washington DC), Rev. Kim Kie, Rev. Wesley Williams, Rev. Sara Ewing –Merrill, Rev. Allen Ewing –Merrill, Rev. David Purdy, 
Pamela Chatterton-Purdy, Rev. Samuel Johnson, Rev. Ronald Wilson, Rev. Joel Guillemette, Rev. Ted Crass, Ray Joyce, Rev. LaTrelle Easterling, Rev. Marion Easterling, Jaclyn Jones, Sangduck Kim, Pastor Hyosuk Yun, Rev. Gary Nettleton (45)



Rev. Jung Sun Oh reads a prayer during the May 20 vigil for victims of the Sewol Ferry tragedy in South Korea. (photo: Alexx Wood)