Singer Kim Jang-hoon joins hunger strike for Sewol families

August 4, 2014
Kim plans to continue his hunger strike until Thursday. (Yonhap)

Kim plans to continue his hunger strike until Thursday. (Yonhap)

Singer Kim Jang-hoon has joined hunger strike to protest stalled talks on a special law for investigating the deadly ferry disaster that killed more than 300 people in April.

Lawmakers are at odds with the victims’ families, who proposed a draft law designed to ensure their participation in an independent probe into the sinking.

The families want the right to select half the experts on the inspection team and that it be given full investigative power, an idea at which President Park Geun-hye’s Saenuri Party is balking.

The families fear that the discussions about the special law will receive less attention in the National Assembly after Saenuri added 11 new seats in last week’s by-elections to establish majority say.

“I am joining the hunger strike of Sewol families to renew the efforts to get the special law passed in the National Assembly,” Kim wrote on his Facebook page on Monday, hours before joining hunger-striking family members and activists at 2 p.m.

“It’s as if the families are experiencing another death. Why do politicians continue to blunder with their decision making while offering political principles as an excuse and allowing themselves to be held back by patrician interests?”

Kim plans to continue his hunger strike until Thursday. His act of solidarity is a risky move health wise as Kim is scheduled to perform at a rock festival in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, on Saturday.

“My heart won’t allow me to go on a stage and sing if I stay quiet about a society marred by unjust and unfairness. Humans are the essence to all music; songs are simply people singing about themselves.”

The 6,286-ton Sewol ferry capsized and sank on a routine journey to Jeju Island on April 16, killing more than 300 people, most of them teenagers on a school trip.

Yoo Byung-eun, 72, the mysterious billionaire who owned the ferry and was a leading member of the Evangelical Baptist Church of Korea, was found dead at a plum orchid in Suncheon last month. A huge manhunt had failed to find him.

Critics argue that the ferry disaster was preventable and claim government corruption and negligence have allowed companies such as Yoo’s to prolong their deadly habits of putting profit before safety.