Ferry Disaster Sends Shockwaves Through Korea

Indications of shocking negligence in the ferry disaster off the southwest coast last Wednesday have spread horror and dismay throughout Korea. Many wept as they watched the coverage of desperate rescue efforts as hopes faded for the passengers, who were mostly teenagers from a high school in Incheon.

The vice principal who led 325 students on a school trip on the ferry committed suicide on Friday.

Survivors who are in hospital at present are extremely distressed, according to Korea University Ansan Hospital, where they are being treated. One doctor who treated them said, "Some students seem to be behaving normally, but the reality has yet to sink in."

Symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome appear one to two weeks after an accident, and patients show more signs of depression and anxiety after returning to their normal lives.

Family members of missing passengers look out to sea from a port in Jindo, South Jeolla Province on Sunday. /News 1 Family members of missing passengers look out to sea from a port in Jindo, South Jeolla Province on Sunday. /News 1

Woo Jong-min at Inje University Seoul Paik Hospital said, "The best way to minimize trauma is to make sure the surviving students are not gripped by guilt over an accident that was beyond their control and can return calmly to their lives."

The tragedy not only affects Ansan south of Seoul, where the students came from.

Kim Hyun-soo at a state-run mental health center in Gyeonggi Province, said, "In a tight-knit society like Korea, a tragedy like this feels very close to home. This can lead to feelings of rage stemming from a sense of guilt."

englishnews@chosun.com / Apr. 21, 2014 11:52 KST