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Voice in Context

Sewol Ferry

Each day, individuals are influenced and characterized by the public environments surrounding them. Designers possess the capability to alter current spaces to communicate and establish fresh dimensions of interaction and involvement among individuals and societies. Design-driven transformation can communicate ideas, question preconceptions, foster conversation, empower voices, or introduce unexpected elements. Recognizing the significance of public space within a community entails examining its context and purpose. Such spaces encompass a variety of environments, spanning from urban areas and thoroughfares to plazas, green spaces, walkways, commercial centers, transit hubs, water bodies, and beyond.

Through the public installation of the Sewol Ferry, a space was created where individuals could gather to honor the memory of the tragedy faced by Koreans. This initiative aimed to raise awareness among those unfamiliar with Korean politics, culture, and traditions about the significance carried by these traditional symbols.

  • On April 15, 2014, a ferry carrying 325 students from Danwon High School's junior class and a dozen teachers capsized while traveling from Incheon to Jeju.

  • The incident occurred around 8:50 am, a time when many Koreans were commuting.

  • Initial reports suggested that most passengers had been rescued, bringing a temporary sense of relief to the nation. However, this turned out to be false.

  • Efforts to rescue survivors were delayed due to the Korean government's lack of immediate action. Coast Guard and civilian divers were eventually mobilized, but crucial hours were lost.

  • Private fishing boats played a significant role in rescuing passengers, raising doubts about the competence of official rescue efforts.

  • The final death toll was staggering: 304 out of 476 passengers perished, with five bodies never recovered. Tragically, 250 of the deceased were junior class students.

  • It wasn't until March 23, 2017, three years later, that the sunken ferry was finally raised, as the government took considerable time to decide on the best approach.

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