The father of one of the high school students killed in South Korea’s ferry disaster on Thursday abandoned a hunger strike aimed at forcing lawmakers to set up a full independent inquiry.
The Sewol ferry sank off South Korea’s southern coast in April with a loss of more than 300 lives. Most of the victims were students at the same high school in Ansan, south of Seoul.
Kim Young-Oh, who lost his 16-year-old daughter in the tragedy, went on hunger strike on July 14, demanding legislation setting up full inquiry into the disaster.
He was hospitalised last week after taking only water and salts throughout the fast. A spokesman for the victims’ relatives said he had decided to end the hunger strike at the urging of his family. “Kim Young-Oh has decided to end the strike… accepting a plea from his family,” the spokesman said.
The relatives also called for President Park Geun-Hye and lawmakers from rival parties to work harder to end the political stalemate over legislation to set up an inquiry. Some of the victims’ relatives, including Kim, have been camped out in downtown Seoul for weeks to push parliament to pass the law.
The bill is currently stuck in the National Assembly, with ruling and opposition parties deadlocked over what legal powers any inquiry should be given.
The main opposition party, the New Politics Alliance for Democracy, on Tuesday launched a sit-in at parliament, accusing the ruling Saenuri Party of trying to sabotage the legislation.
The ruling party has rejected a clause in the bill to allow victims’ families a role in investigating and bringing charges against those responsible for the disaster. Fifteen of the boat’s crew members are currently on trial, including the captain and three senior officers who are accused of “homicide through wilful negligence” — a charge that can carry the death penalty.
The bulk of the charges arise from the fact that they chose to abandon the ferry while hundreds of people were still trapped inside.
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