“The children on the ferry Sewol have bequeathed us ‘empathy.’”
A considerable number of our relatives and neighbors have passed away due to COVID-19, but I have not been able to convey my condolences for every single one of those departed. Up until just several days ago, they were among those who stood by us through thick and thin. It is regrettable that funerals could not be held for proper farewells. I pray for the repose of their souls and extend my sympathy to their families.
At a time when empathy is needed more than ever, we mark the 6th anniversary of the Sewol ferry tragedy. We’ve cried together about the Sewol and acted to take responsibility collectively. That tragedy has also taught us how deeply interconnected we are.
In the course of striving to overcome the COVID-19 outbreak, we are confirming our interdependence once again. The people are wearing face masks and complying with “social distancing” and “self-quarantine” with the mindset “We will not let anyone die helplessly.”
A lesson from the Sewol ferry incident can be found in our attitudes toward and measures against COVID-19. Remembering the children who bequeathed a legacy of “social responsibility,” I extend my heartfelt gratitude to our people.
Unfortunately, two parents have recently joined their children’s side. We ruminate on the “safe country” that we promised to those children, determined to never again let go of outstretched hands. We will proceed with the construction of the April 16 Life Safety Park and National Ansan Mental Health Center as planned and do our best to shed light on the truth. The daily lives to which we return after the COVID-19 crisis will be significantly different from before. We will thoroughly prepare for that new life as well as our response to a disaster.
April is the month when longing causes even our bodies to ache. We can overcome this sorrow when opening up our hearts and can muster our courage when believing that someone is beside us. We are always a source of hope for one another. I express my deepest sympathy for the bereaved families of the Sewol ferry victims and wish them good health.