© 2023 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Ferry Disaster Hits Close To Home For St. Louis Korean Community

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio
Demonstrators from St. Louis' Korean community handed out fliers on Lagoon Dr. of Forrest Park on Sunday.

Dozens of Korean protestors demonstrated in Forest Park Sunday, wearing black to mourn the victims of last month's ferry disaster in South Korea, which killed more than 300 students and others.

They also called for an investigation into the  South Korean government's mishandled rescue attempts. Their anger and frustration, which has been growing among the Korean communities worldwide, came shortly before South Korea's president announced she will disband the country's Coast Guard over its response to the tragedy.

Many in the Korean community here feel the government did too little, too late in trying to save children who may have still been alive when the ferry capsized April 16, said Debbie Kwon, who helped organize the event at the northwest corner of the park.

She also said mainstream media in South Korea have done little to expose the inept response.

“The family of the victims actually reported to the authorities and the independent media that only less than 30 people were there to rescue [the survivors]. They hardly saw any rescuing force there at the scene," she said.

Kwon also described a perception in her community that economic factors played a role in the lackluster effort.

"If the dead children had lived in well-off areas or if their parents had been powerful or in high offices of government, they definitely could have been saved," she said. "But because the children are not from the well-off background they were abandoned."

The demonstration was one of many held in cities across the U.S. yesterday. Kwon said the gatherings were organized nationally by a Korean online community and affiliated with full page ads this month in the New York Times and Washington Post calling for an investigation into the disaster.  

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.