02/25/2015, 00.00
SOUTH KOREA
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Baptized by the Pope in Korea: 500 kilometers of rosaries and prostration to demand justice for Sewol

Francis Lee Ho-jin lost his son in the sinking of the ferry in April 2014. Almost a year after the massacre, the government has yet to clarify those responsible for the disaster. Together with his daughter, he is marching on foot from the south of the country to the capital: every three steps, he prostrates himself to ask the population to remember the more than 300 victims. The continuous recitation of the Marian prayer for the repose of the souls.

Seoul (AsiaNews) - A march 520 kilometers long, stopping every three steps to bow down to the ground, to shake the social conscience of South Korea and push the government to launch a real investigation into the truth about the Sinking of the MV Sewol. This is the journey of Francis Lee Ho-jin, baptized by the Pope during his apostolic journey to the country, and his daughter Ah-reum: in the disaster they lost their son and brother Seung-hyeon.

The two set out yesterday afternoon from Jindo County, in the southern province of South Jeolla. The destination is Gwanghwamun Square, the "beating heart" of the capital Seoul, where Francis beatified 134 Korean martyrs and where the memorial of the victims of Sewol stands.

April 16, 2014, a ferry carrying more than 300 passengers sunk on its way to the island of Cheju. Most of the victims were high school students on a school trip. After the incident, the government adopted a law to find out what happened and who was responsible, but for victims' families it was inadequate and thin. In fact, the law fails to lay out charges, look at the responsibilities of the Coast Guard or government officials, and finds extenuating circumstances for the crew. After more than 10 months, it is still unclear why the ship sank.

According to relatives, who set up a committee in May, politicians want to protect themselves and the shipping industry. For this reason, they want a new law and began to protest downtown Seoul. Their tents spread over Gwanghwamun Square, and during Pope Francis' visit to Korea, demonstrators were able to meet the Holy Father.

During the march, Francis Lee plans to continually recite the rosary for the repose of the soul of his son and his companions. Together with his daughter, also, the two are walking with the traditional method of Buddhism known as "sambo ilbae": it is a Tibetan Buddhist practice that involves every three steps, bowing down to the ground. To remember the tragedy even more, the two bring are pulling along a paper mache model of the ferry (see photo).

Francis says: "I want to bow down 300 thousand times before the people of South Korea. They will accept my bow, and I hope they will also remember those who have died." The first project involved five kilometers a day, but it was quickly changed and to four: "The idea was to get to the square for the first anniversary of the massacre, but we must avoid overdoing it. I think we'll get there by June."

 

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