With less than a week to go before applications close for compensation relating to the Sewol disaster, only 57% of eligible victims or survivors have applied for compensation.
Applications close on 30 September and 28-30 September is a nationwide holiday for Chuseok, or Korean Thanksgiving Day, giving greater urgency to the matter.
South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, which is administering the disbursement of compensation, said that of the 461 eligible victims or survivors, just 267 have filed applications.
The Sewol capsized during a routine Incheon-Jeju trip on 16 April 2014, leaving 304 of 476 passengers and crew dead or missing.
Of the 172 survivors, 14 are crew members who have been jailed for abandoning the ferry and its passengers to their fate. Another survivor, a vice-principal of Danwon High School, committed suicide soon after being rescued. Majority of the passengers were Danwon High School students and teachers.
That leaves 157 survivors who are eligible to seek compensation.
MOF said that of the 304 dead or missing, families of 181 have sought compensation. Just 86 of the 157 survivors have applied for compensation.
To encourage families of the dead and other survivors to file for compensation, MOF will continue to hold consultations in Ansan even on 29 September, despite it being a holiday. Ansan is where many of the victims were from.
The ministry believes that the application numbers will rise as the deadline nears, judging from the filings received since July.
MOF received 31 (18 from families of the deceased) applications in July and 46 (37 from the deceased’s families) applications in August.
Since 1 September, 100 applications have been received, including 45 from the deceased’s families.
MOF stressed that no more applications will be accepted after 30 September and said, “We will do our best during the remaining time to support applications from the many survivors and families of the dead who are likely to file claims.”
On the other hand, compensation relating to other damages is almost settled.
MOF said that 311 of 325 applications relating to cargo loss or damage have been settled, together with 62 claims for pollution and 553 for the loss of income that fishermen incurred due to the rescue operations.