A heartbreaking new video taken inside a capsized South Korean ferry shows that students were told to stay in their cabins even as the ship’s crew and captain fled to safety.
The video was shot on the phone of Park Su-hyeon, 17, whose body was recovered from the vessel by South Korean coast guard rescuers. The video was released to South Korean television by the boy’s father, Park Jong-dae, as part of an effort to show the public how things went wrong about the ferry.
In the video, a number of the student passengers can be overheard expressing their fears about the ship’s fate. But at the same time, other passengers appear unaware of the gravity of the situation aboard the Sewol.
“This looks like the end,” one teenage passenger says in a translation provided by the New York Times . Another asks, “Are we becoming a Titanic?” In a separate translation provided by CNN, another passenger asks, “"You think I'm really going to die?"”
Ninety-two passengers are still reported as missing amongst the original 476 aboard the vessel. Of those, 325 were second year high school students.
The full 15-minute video was broadcast on South Korean television and has been viewed nearly 200,000 times on YouTube since being posted Monday evening. The faces of the passengers have been blurred to protect the identities of the victims, many of whom have still not been recovered.
“This is by far the most heartbreaking scene I have seen in my 27-year broadcasting career,” television producer Choi Seung-ho said while airing the footage in a translation provided by the Times.
In the video, a voice can be heard on the ship’s intercom telling students and teachers to stay in their cabins. At the same time, the ship’s crew and captain fled the ship through a crew only exit. Rescuers later said they had no idea the man they were pulling from the ship was the captain.
“During the rescue operation, people were just dropping in the sea," South Korean coast guard Capt. Kim Kyung Il said in a press conference translated by CNN. "Everyone was wearing a life vest, so we couldn't tell who was passenger, and who was crew."
Some of the student passengers appeared to question the instructions to stay in their cabins, with one voice saying, “Nonsense. I want to get off. I mean it.” Another student also questioned the instructions, asking, “What’s going on? If they are telling us to wear life jackets, doesn’t that mean that the ship is sinking?”
The ship’s captain Lee Joon-seok and 14 crewmembers have been arrested and charged with abandoning their passengers in an emergency.
"My son, it must have been cold and dark where you were," Jong-dae, said while reading a statement on JTBC, the South Korean network that carried the footage. "How much you must have been cold and afraid?
"I hoped and prayed for your survival, but it didn't turn out that way,” Jong-dae continued. “My son, now it's time for us to say goodbye. It's time for you and me to say goodbye and for me to let go of the hope that I could not let go so far. Please forgive me.”
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