The world’s media may have moved on for the site of another oil spill, and the beaches may be clean on the surface, but a month after South Korea’s worst oil spill, residents are struggling to pick up their shattered lives.
Last week a young fisherman Lee Young-kwon killed himself by drinking pesticide in despair over losing his oyster farm.
“Why did you have to die when the people who sprayed black oil on your oyster farm are living and breathing,” Lee’s daughter Nan-sook said at a memorial service this week, where more than 10,000 residents gathered.
Mourners, reports Reuters, spoke of Lee as a gentle and loving father. The local community tried to console each other over livelihoods ruined by the spill and a government response they feel came too slowly and offers too little to help them rebuild.
The fishing industry has died and tourism has dried up. Conservationists said even though the beaches are now mostly clean, the damage from oil in the seabed will last for years, killing fish, marine plants and plankton.
Fisherman Chung Nak-chu said: “The ocean is dead so what do we live for now? This was our lifeline for thousands of years that fed our children.”