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South Korea’s Sewol ferry disaster, a tragedy that traumatised a generation

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On April 16, 2014, the MV Sewol ferry capsized near the southwestern shores of South Korea, with 476 passengers on board, including 325 pupils on a school trip. Very few of them survived because they obeyed the order to stay in their cabins while the ferry was sinking. Beyond the human tragedy, with 304 lives lost, the disaster sparked widespread social and political upheaval in South Korea. Seven years on, FRANCE 24’s team reports on how the terrible event has changed the country.

The sinking of the Sewol sparked debate on South Korea‘s culture of obedience and hierarchy and led to the emergence of a new generation of young, politically aware South Koreans, known as the Sewol generation. They are not yet 20 years old, but many of them have entered politics and are keen to shake up what they see as an apathetic political class.

FRANCE 24’s team reports from Ansan, a city 30 kilometres south of Seoul, which was home to the young victims and where the pain of the disaster remains particularly raw.

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