Korean ferry students captured sinking on video

Cellphone video from one of the passengers aboard the ferry Sewol, Park Su-hyeon, shows many students not realizing that the ferry would soon capsize and sink off the coast of South Korea.

SEOUL, South Korea — As a ferry carrying 476 people was badly listing off the southwestern coast of South Korea two weeks ago, one of the students on board asked, “Are we becoming a Titanic?”

“This is fun!” another shouted, not realizing that the ferry would soon capsize and sink.

In videos recovered from the cellphones of passengers aboard the ferry Sewol, a voice can be heard over the ship’s intercom urging students and their teachers to stay put, telling them they are safer where they are. But as the ship continued to tip and the voice over the intercom repeated the same instructions, panic spread. Some passengers apparently sensed the approaching doom, and sent farewells to their families.

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“This looks like the end,” a boy shouted into a smartphone held by one of his classmates, Park Su-hyeon.

Before he could finish, another boy cut in: “Mom, Dad, I love you.”

The young passengers were among 325 second-year high school students on board the 6,825-ton ferry, which sank on April 16. After Su-hyeon, 17, was found dead, the police returned the boy’s recovered personal items to his family, who discovered the video on his phone. This week, his father, Park Jong-dae, released the video to the local news media, saying that South Koreans must watch it to learn what went wrong.

As of Wednesday, 210 people were confirmed dead, with 92 still missing. Of the dead or missing, 250 were students on a school trip to a resort island.

Among the text messages, photos and video clips that have been produced by passengers of the ill-fated ship, Su-hyeon’s 15-minute footage bears the most dramatic witness to the panic and fear, as well as youthful naïveté and optimism, of the students trapped inside the ship while many of the crew members, including the captain, were among the first to desert their vessel…

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