In April 2014, the ferry MV Sewol sank en route to Jeju Island. More than three hundred people lost their lives, and 250 of those victims were students from Danwon High School. The aftershocks of this tragedy can still be felt six years later.
In 2017, BTS released “Spring Day”, a song fans believe was written about the Sewol ferry disaster. “It is about a sad event, as you said, but it is also about longing,” Jin said in a recent interview with Esquire, when asked if the song is about a sad event.
Although ARMYs are familiar with “Spring Day’s” rumored connection to the Sewol, many might not know that BTS and Bang Si Hyuk, the founder of Big Hit Entertainment, met with family members of the victims back in 2014.
In a new report, The Hankyoreh reporter Kim Kyung Wook reveals how BTS’s name unexpectedly came up when he interviewed bereaved families last April. Approximately 200 days after the Sewol sank, BTS and Bang Si Hyuk paid their respects in person.
They burned incense, comforted the families, and were polite throughout the visit. They also donated 100 million won (approximately $85,000) to the Sewol Ferry Disaster 416 Family Council.
The Hankyoreh‘s report also mentions a “government-level cultural blacklist”. The blacklist, which was not made public until April 2018, is a 60-page document that lists over 9,000 artists who were excluded from state funding for criticizing former president Park Geun Hye‘s response to the Sewol‘s sinking.
After the blacklist went public, a fact-finding committee under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism found that 116 artists on the list had their artworks censored or excluded from state assistance programs for artists.
Ever since BTS met the families, they have “earnestly prayed and cheered for [BTS’s] future”.