Seoul: Providing a DNA sample marked an emotional watershed for Han Mi-Ok – a heart-wrenching acceptance that she was unlikely to ever see her child alive again.
Her son Song Kang-Hyun was one of 325 high school on board the ferry Sewol when it capsized and sank more than three days ago en route to the southern resort island of Jeju.
While some were rescued, hundreds remained unaccounted for and, for parents like Han, it was becoming harder to keep any sort of grip on the slim hope that they were alive in an air pocket somewhere in the submerged vessel.
The painful transition from hope to acceptance was played out in a green and white tent erected close to the gymnasium on Jindo island where hundreds of distraught relatives have been sheltering since the ferry went down on Wednesday morning.
Inside the tent, two tables were manned by four men from the South Korean coastguard’s Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) unit.
Their task was to take DNA samples from any relatives willing to provide them, in order to facilitate eventual identification of bodies recovered from the 6,825-tonne Sewol.
Twenty-nine people have been confirmed dead in the disaster, but 273 are still missing.