SOUTH KOREA: Sewol Families Committee’s Position on the Agreement Between the Rival Parties Regarding the Special Sewol Bill

For more information or media inquiry, please contact People’s Committee for the Sewol Ferry Tragedy (Ms. Gayoon Baek,, +82 (0)2 723 5051).

We oppose the agreement between the rival parties that squashed the family’s requests

The Sewol Families Committee held a press conference in front of the National Assembly main building today on August 7, 2014 at 7pm and expressed their position on the agreement between the ruling party and opposition party about the Special Sewol Bill.

The Saenuri Party and the New Politics Alliance for Democracy did not guarantee the right to investigate and the authority to indict to the Special Investigative Committee. They jointly announced that the investigation would be executed under a special investigator nominated by the President under the special investigatory law. This in fact completely ignored the petition submitted by the family members and signatures of 3.5 million citizens.


The Sewol Families Committee clearly states that they are opposed to the agreement between the ruling party and opposition party that completely rejected the request of the family members and citizens. They cannot accept the agreement between the two rival parties that took place without asking any questions to the Sewol Families Committee for their opinion.

We oppose the Rival Parties’ Agreement that Squashed the Family’s Requests

The family members couldn’t hide their anger upon hearing the news about the agreement between the ruling party and opposition party. This is because the agreement between the rival parties clearly rejected the requests of the family members and citizens. The July 30th elections resulting in favor of the ruling Saenuri party provided the perfect opportunity for the Saenuri party to blatantly escape the Sewol ferry situation.

We will not repeat in length why we need the authority to investigate and indict in order to reveal every single truth about the sinking of the Sewol ferry. The reason we need the authority to investigate and indict will not disappear unless the reason to reveal the truth disappears. The joint investigation of the police and prosecutors and the government investigation only spread more doubt, rather than providing the truth to the families and citizens. When evidence arose pointing to the possibility of the National Intelligence Service’s involvement in the reconstruction of the Sewol ferry, they wanted to bury that evidence. Although we are curious about what the president was doing during the 7 hours, included in the golden time, they say that cannot tell us. Are they telling us–the family members–to stop now when we have not been able to move on with our lives since April 16th? Are you telling us to live the rest of our lives with this tragedy?

The agreement to allow the special investigator nominated by the president under the special investigatory law is killing the family members twice. The family members are not allowed to give any input on who the special investigatory nominating committee appoints as two candidates, and among the two candidates, the president gets to nominate one of them. Are you telling us to entrust finding the truth to why our children were left to die to this kind of special investigator? If this were the case, we wouldn’t have even petitioned for a special law. The reason why we can’t entrust finding the truth to the police, prosecutors, and government investigators is not solely based on distrust. It is because we have to write our own letter from this world to our children who were victims of the Sewol ferry accident and to the many victims who sacrificed their lives.

We are very curious about the intentions of the rival parties when they reached an agreement today. We seriously question whether they actually read the proposed law stated in the family members’ and citizens’ petition. We would like to ask whether they could promise to reveal the truth based on the law that they agreed upon. Why did the rival parties that showed no intentions to agree on the day that the president made a promise, or on the 100th day of the Sewol ferry tragedy, suddenly come to an agreement like this today? There is no ethical reason not to ask if this was simply an agreement to save face for the anxious Blue House in anticipation of the visit of the Pope next week?

The governmental investigation shied away from finding the truth. The Saenuri party didn’t even take one step to find the truth after coming up with a so-called special law that was supposed to have the authority to reveal the truth. The Saenuri party has only focused on finding a way to escape from the Sewol tragedy. Do you realize that the New Politics Alliance only chased after the Saenuri party that was trying to escape? The New Politics Alliance can only be seen as a sideshow to help the Saenuri party’s attempt to escape from the Sewol tragedy situation.

But in the center of this is Park Youngsun who is the head of the Emergency Committee and the family members cannot hide their frustrations. When Emergency Committee leader Park Youngsun was the political leader of her party, she was the one who strongly advocated for an independent investigatory body to conduct a thorough investigation to find the truth. And you were the one who visited the family members of the Sewol tragedy and emphasized this special law! We, the family members, cannot tolerate that you changed your mind as easy as flipping your hands and outrightly disregarded the opinions of the families and citizens and sided with the ruling party. Not only that, we want to make it clear again that we oppose your decision. We clearly state that the agreement between the ruling party and opposition party that took place without asking anything to the Victims’ Family’s Special Committee is an agreement only between yourselves.

If we stop here, the truth will disappear and another tragedy will slowly creep upon us. The citizens who have been working with the families were also unable to hide their anger and concern about the agreement between the rival parties. This time things have to change. A special law that allows the authority to investigate and indict in order to prove the truth must be put in place. This is what the citizens want. We clearly state that the rival parties’ despicable agreement that disregards the finding of the truth cannot stop us.

7 August 201

Sewol Tragedy Victims’ Family Committee and Sewol Tragedy Victims/Missing/Survivors’ Family Committee

Document Type : Forwarded Statement
Document ID : AHRC-FST-060-2014
Countries : South Korea,
Issues : Child rights, Democracy, Extrajudicial killings, Judicial system, Rule of law,