Yellow ribbon campaign unites S. Korea in hope

April 23, 2014
Students at Joongbu University tie yellow ribbons written with messages of hope on April 23. / Yonhap

Students at Joongbu University tie yellow ribbons written with messages of hope on April 23. / Yonhap

By Kim Se-jeong

As the search and rescue operation entered its eighth day on Wednesday, a growing number of people are joining a “yellow ribbon” campaign, an expression of the nation’s hope of finding survivors.

So far, no new survivors of the submerged ferry Sewol have been found as the death toll continues to increase.

At the Cheonggye Stream on Wednesday morning, a group of volunteers from “Hyanggisori,” a volunteer group, were inviting people to tie yellow ribbons on long stretched ropes made of straw.

Most hand-written messages laden with expressions of hope read like these: “I am waiting for you!”, “I hope you’ll return!” and “Come home!”

Some expressed guilt: “We adults are sorry” or “You did not have to be the victims.”

“We can’t go down to Jindo, but we wanted to do something to help,” Chung Hyung-eun, one of the volunteers, told The Korea Times.

She encouraged people to come and tie ribbons in show of support. The campaign will last until May 6. A Japanese tourist visiting Seoul with her boyfriend said she would remember families of the deceased students.

Outside Seoul, the ribbon campaign is being complemented by prayer meetings and candle light vigils.

The campaign is also gaining momentum online.

The yellow ribbon campaign.

The yellow ribbon campaign.

Different versions of yellow ribbon illustrations are being shared and liked on different social networking service venues.

So far the most popular one has been created by a student group ALT, circulating through Kakao Talk, a free messaging service application, and Twitter.

It has been endorsed by local celebrities like 2AM, Girl’s Generation and Big Bang, adding to its popularity. The campaign announcement on the ALT’s blog was received with messages of support.

“I would like to post it on my blog,” wrote a user nicknamed “Damo.”

“I am still hoping for a survivor. I thank the university students who are doing this,” wrote “Maria,” another user.

Shim Eun-jin, an actress and a singer, drew her own ribbon.

“This is my own creation of a yellow ribbon,” she said. “Let’s get our hearts together (for the hope of survivors.)”