Drive to Honor Heroes of Ferry Disaster

A number of petitions have been launched to recognize the brave people who sacrificed their lives while trying to save others as the ferry Sewol sank off the southwest coast on April 16.

Incheon city government asked the Ministry of Health and Welfare to honor Kim Gi-woong, a 28-year-old part-timer on Sewol, and his girlfriend Jeong Hyeon-seon, a 28-year-old service crewmember, as heroes who died in the service of others.

Kim woke up three crewmembers who were sleeping in the lobby in the third floor, and ushered them out to be rescued, only to go back into the ferry to help more passengers out while Jeong assisted him.

An online petition was launched on a portal site since April 18 to get the same recognition for Park Ji-young, a 22-year-old service crewmember who gave up her life jacket to a Danwon High School student and helped passengers escape.

So far, 53,000 people have signed the petition.

From left, Nam Yoon-cheol, Choi Hye-jeong, Ko Chang-seok (top); Choi Deok-ha, Jeong Cha-woon, Yang On-yu (middle); Park Ji-young, Jeong Hyeon-seon and Kim Gi-woong (bottom) From left, Nam Yoon-cheol, Choi Hye-jeong, Ko Chang-seok (top); Choi Deok-ha, Jeong Cha-woon, Yang On-yu (middle); Park Ji-young, Jeong Hyeon-seon and Kim Gi-woong (bottom)

Three teachers from Danwon High School -- Nam Yoon-cheol (35), Ko Chang-seok (40), and Choi Hye-jeong (25) -- also acted bravely in the face of mortal danger.

Nam ran around the ferry, put life jackets onto his students, and shouted at them to get out of the ship when the ferry started to seriously tip over at around 10 a.m. His body was found the day after the accident.

Ko, a physical education teacher, was busy putting life jackets onto the students, but was unable to escape himself. Choi put students' safety before her own as she texted her students, "I will go after all of you are out."

Teenagers Yang On-yu and Kim Ju-ah (both 17) have shamed the adult professionals who bungled the rescue operations. They managed to get out on deck and were almost on the verge of being rescued. But they were unable to turn away from their friends' cries for help coming from the cabins. They went back inside and were later found dead.

And Jeong Cha-woon (17) gave his life jacket to his friend, and went into the water to help rescue others. Another 17-year-old boy Choi Deok-ha was the first person to report the ferry's problem to 119. His body was found on April 23.

Ansan City announced on Tuesday that they will see if they can put forward a request to the Health and Welfare Ministry to get Choi honored for his sacrifice.

englishnews@chosun.com / Apr. 30, 2014 14:03 KST