Last Friday, Seoul Archbishop Cardinal Yeom Soo-jung met with the fathers of two temporary teachers from Danwon High School who lost their lives trying to save the students during the tragic sinking of the Sewol ferry.
Lee Jong-lak, father of the late Lee Ji-hae, and Kim Seok-woo, father of the late Kim Cho-won, visited Myeongdong on Oct. 10 and had a one-hour meeting with the cardinal.
Together in the meeting were Auxiliary Bishop Timothy Yu Gyoung-chon, Seoul Archdiocese spokesperson Fr. Matthias Hur Young-yup, Fr. Chang Kyeong-min and Fr. Jung Soo-yong from the Labor Pastoral Committee, and Yang Han-wook from the Buddhist Social Labor Committee.
Lee Ji-hae and Kim Cho-won rushed downstairs from their fifth-floor cabin as the ferry they were on began to list.
“I have been praying every day that I will reunite with my daughter after I die,” said Lee Jong-lak in a tearful tone.
Speaking to the common perception that even a year after the tragedy, the government has not responded appropriately, he added, “My daughter died at such a young age and I cannot accept that she is being discriminated even in her death. Is it my daughter’s fault now that she tried to save the students while she is only a temporary teacher?”
“The parents of the Sewol ferry victims have shed enough tears. We have traveled around Korea wishing to gather more power and strength. But, we don’t know what to do anymore,” said Kim Seok-woo, asking for the support of Cardinal Yeom.
Cardinal Yeom encouraged them not to be trapped in reasoning but to “handle the problem with love,” because “if we do not protect the most important values, it will be totally meaningless no matter how modern our society has developed into.”
“You are not alone,” the cardinal said. “I am here to support you. All the religious groups will be here to give you strength.”
Since May 18 last year when Cardinal Yeom Soo-jung visited the Sewol Memorial, he has continued to meet with the victims’ families to give them consolation.
The Cardinal met with the families in the Bishop’s House on May 18, 2014; he visited those who started a hunger strike in Gwanghwamun Square on August 22, 2015; he met with the families before the Holy Mass of the 1st anniversary of Sewol tragedy on April 17 this year.