South Korea ferry disaster: Texts from the doomed ship

As the South Korean ferry Sewol began to sink in what could be the country's deadliest maritime disaster in 20 years, some of the 462 passengers on board reached for their mobile devices to send farewell messages to friends and loved ones. CBC News translated some of those messages.

Heartache expressed in text messages from ferry passengers, 300 of whom are still missing

Yonhap News Agency obtained this excerpt of a text message sent by a Korean student aboard the Sewol ferry. This is a translation by CBC News. Coast guard rescuers are still searching for nearly 280 missing people after the ferry capsized in what could be the country's worst maritime disaster in more than 20 years. (CBC translation by Duk Han Lee)

Frantic South Korean passengers aboard a ferry, many of them high school students heading on an overnight trip to Jeju Island, reached for their mobile devices to send farewell messages to friends and loved ones as the ship carrying 462 passengers and crew began to sink.

At least six people travelling on the 6,825-ton Sewol ferry were confirmed dead and hundreds more were still missing on Wednesday as the coast guard continued rescue operations. Reports said that 164 people were rescued.

South Korean news outlets also began showing electronic communications sent to family and friends of victims of the deadly accident.'s Duk Han Lee translated some of those heartbreaking conversations.

Below is a text message exchange between a high school student aboard the Sewol ferry and his mother:

"Mom, I'm sending you this now because I'm afraid I might not be able to say it later. I love you," the student writes.

His mother replies seven minutes later. "Why..? I was wondering why you weren't checking the messenger..."

The student is reported to have been rescued and has since been reunited with his family.

(Kyunghyang Shinmun, CBC, translation by Duk Han Lee)

In another set of messages, a father tries to help his child.

"I know the rescue is going on, but try coming out if possible," he writes.

"No, dad, can’t walk. The hallway is packed with kids, and it’s too tilted," the student writes.

The passenger's fate is unknown.

(Kyunghyang Shinmun, CBC, translation by Duk Han Lee)

In a group chat, students spoke with a teacher amid the chaos.

"Are you alright, sir? Are you wearing the life vest?" the student, or students, ask.

"Kids … don’t more around and stay put … wear the vest if you can," the teacher responds.

About 15 minutes later in the group chat, a student writes "I love all of you."

That message is followed up with a note saying, "Let’s meet again alive."

(Kyunghyang Shinmun, CBC, translation by Duk Han Lee)

In a text message exchange between a passenger named Woong Gi and his brother, the passenger's brother tries to provide reassurance that coast guard rescuers are on their way.

"Keep calm, don't panic, take your time, stay sharp, and do as they say," the passenger's brother writes. 

"When data works contact me again, your brother," he adds in another message six minutes later.

The passenger is currently reported missing:

(Kyunghyang Shinmun, CBC, translation by Duk Han Lee)

As the Sewol ship continued to sink, a high school student who was a passenger messaged 30 members of a theatre club in this text exchange obtained by South Korea's Yonhap News agency. Several other people in the conversation replied, some apparently confused by the messages about the ferry capsizing.

"If I've wronged any of you, forgive me," one student writes. "Love you guys."

The fate of the student is not yet known:

(Yonhap News, CBC, translation by Duk Han Lee)


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