The parents of several South Korea ferry disaster victims shaved their heads Thursday to protest the government's handling of the investigation and plans for compensation. About 50 family members gathered in Seoul to publicly reject the money offered to them after the April 2014 incident that killed 304 people, Agence France Press reported. They argued the government should instead be recovering the ferry and finding out who was responsible for its sinking.
“I want to grab and kill the rude people who chose to talk about money a year after the death of our children,” said Choi Gyeong-deok, the father of one of the 250 high school students who were on board the Sewol when it sank.
Nine victims' bodies have still not been recovered, but on Wednesday the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries released its proposals for compensation. Each of the students' families would receive about 420 million won ($383,000), and relatives of the 11 teachers would get about 760 million won. Insurance and donations bump these totals up to 820 million won and 1.14 billion won, respectively, according to the Associated Press.
â€” TODAY (@TODAYonline) April 2, 2015
Protesters Thursday argued they didn't want money, instead preferring an independent probe into the disaster that the government previously blamed on the ferry's crew members, the boat's cargo and delayed rescue operations. The ferry's captain and three crew members have already been jailed for the incident.
The South Korean Parliament in November passed a bill calling for an 18-month inquiry into the sinking, but the Anadolu Agency reported the families are worried the government will attempt to manipulate the investigation. As they shaved their heads in Gwanghwamun Square, they shouted, "The truth never sinks."
“The priority for the government should not be monetary compensation but getting to the bottom of the incident, salvaging the wreckage, and finding the last missing persons,” the protesters said in a statement.