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South Korea plans to recover ferry Sewol

Opponents to the salvaging idea say the process would be too expensive – costing South Korean taxpayers more than $560 million and taking over a year to complete.

By Elizabeth Shim
South Korea plans to recover ferry Sewol
Parents of Sewol ferry victims during a rally in central Seoul shaved their heads Thursday in protest of government disregard of their requests, which included a demand for the ship’s recovery. Photo courtesy by Yun Dong-jin/Yonhap.

SEOUL, April 6 (UPI) -- South Korean president Park Geun-hye said plans to salvage the sunken ferry Sewol should be considered as Seoul faced the one-year anniversary of a tragedy that killed more than 300 passengers, most of whom were high school students.

"We will actively review recovering the ship by gathering opinions from the families of the missing people and from experts," Park said at a meeting with senior officials, according to the Korea Herald.

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Park's announcement follows criticism from victims' families and activists that her administration is not doing enough to recover the vessel and investigate the cause of the accident.

One of the victims' fathers, Kim Young-oh, told UPI in March he and others have not received a conclusive explanation of the accident from the government, and efforts to establish the probe have only encountered obstacles.

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The Korea Herald reported Park had postponed recovery efforts because she may have been averting negative sentiment before a by-election scheduled for April 29.

Opponents to the salvaging idea say the process would be too expensive – costing South Korean taxpayers more than $560 million and taking over a year to complete. But others said movement toward recovery needs to be made – though ideas to the approach diverged even within Park's governing Saenuri Party.

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Protests from victims' families are expected. Some have demanded Seoul to recover the unaccounted bodies of nine missing people before any other plans are put into action.

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On Thursday, during a rally in central Seoul, the parents of the teenage victims shaved their heads in protest of government disregard of their requests, which then included a demand for the ship's recovery.

On Friday ahead of Easter Sunday, Yonhap reported a group of 100 South Korean Christians and victims' families sailed to the site of the disaster to offer prayers to the missing in hopes they return to their families.

The ceremony concluded with the tossing of chrysanthemum flowers into the deep waters, where the 6,800-ton Sewol sank nearly a year ago on April 16, killing 304 on board.

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