South Korea ferry victims’ relatives reject compensation plan
SEOUL, South Korea—Dozens of relatives of victims of a South Korean ferry sinking that killed more than 300 a year ago shaved their heads on Thursday in protest of government plans to provide compensation instead of a more thorough investigation.
The relatives also called on the government to salvage the ferry Sewol off the country’s southwest coast before starting the compensation process.
The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said the compensation calculations of about 420 million won ($383,000) for each of the 250 students and 760 million won ($694,000) for 11 teachers were based on age and future income potential.
When including the expected amount of payments from insurance companies and from civilian donations of around 128.8 billion won ($117 million), student victims will probably receive an average of 820 million won ($748,000) and dead teachers 1.14 billion won ($1 million), the ministry said.
Choi Gyeong-deok, the father of one of the students, said that the government insulted the grieving families by announcing the compensation plans first.
“I want to grab and kill the rude people who chose to talk about money on the anniversary of the death of our children,” Choi said with a trembling voice after he got his head shaved.
An official from the ministry, who refused to be named citing department rules, said that the compensation plan was “final, for the time being.” He couldn’t completely rule out the possibility of the committee discussing the plan again.
Officials blamed crew members’ negligence, overloaded cargo and improper storage for the sinking, along with untimely rescue efforts. A South Korean court last year sentenced 15 crew members to between five and 36 years in prison. A verdict by the Gwangju High Court on the appeals of the sentences by both the crew members and the prosecutors, who complained that the punishments were too light, is expected on April 28.
A total of 295 bodies have been recovered; nine others are still missing.
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