S. Korea Mourns Sunken Warship Victims

Monday, 26 Apr 2010 09:02 AM

 

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SEOUL— Politicians, soldiers and citizens lined up in the rain on Monday to pay tribute to at least 40 sailors killed in the sinking of a warship, as the country inched closer to placing blame on North Korea and faced the urgent question of how it might respond.

Mourners, including President Lee Myung-bak, placed white chrysanthemums on a funeral altar established at City Hall Plaza in central Seoul. Citizens scribbled thousands of notes that voiced condolences for the sailors and bitter anger toward North Korea, and stuck them on billboards.

“I have never said this enough while you were alive: I love you,” wrote a person who identified herself as the sister of Lim Jae-yop, one of the 40 sailors confirmed dead. She pasted her note below the sailor’s portrait. “In our next lives, let’s meet again as sister and brother.”

Grief gripped the nation a day after South Korea’s defense minister blamed a torpedo attack as the most likely cause of the March 26 sinking, which also left six sailors missing and presumed dead.

Although it has yet to present evidence of North Korean involvement, the conservative government in Seoul helped raise a patriotic sentiment, describing the dead as “46 brave sailors” and honoring them with military medals usually reserved for combat deaths. The North has denied sinking the ship.

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