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BUSAN: Sewol Victim Families Urge Halt of Ferry Disaster Screening at Festival

BUSAN – On the eve of the Busan International Film Festival (Oct. 2-11), families of some of the victims of April’s Sewol ferry disaster delivered a letter to the mayor of Busan, demanding that the festival remove a documentary about the disaster from its lineup.

Representatives of some of the families Wednesday hand-delivered a letter of protest to Busan City Hall. They met with mayor Seo Byung-soo and members of the council who form the steering committee for the festival.

They called on the city authorities not to allow the festival to hold screenings of “The Truth Shall Not Sink with Sewol,” a film co-directed by journalist Lee Sang-ho and documentary filmmaker Ahn Hae-ryong. The film focuses specifically on why a particular piece of diving equipment was not used at the time of the rescue, and argues that lives were needlessly lost.

According to the letter: “screening the documentary when it only depicts one side would be tantamount to killing the victims and their families twice.”

The family representatives said they would consider legal action if the organizing committee refuses to remove the film.

The ferry disaster caused the death or disappearance of 304 people, 250 of whom were high school students on a school trip. The exact cause of the disaster remains unknown and the Korean government and involved agencies have been accused of incompetence and a cover-up.  

The victims’ families since become divided, with the relatives of students and non-student victims disagreeing on how they would negotiate the passage of a special bill agreeing on the disaster with ruling and opposition parties.

Film-makers are expected to weigh in on the issue at a press conference in Busan on Friday.

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