A 17-minute recording made by a student who died when a ferry sank off the coast of South Korea provides the most heartbreaking glimpse yet of how a fun trip turned into horror for young passengers on the doomed Sewol.
The video, translated by USA TODAY and the Associated Press, was found on the phone of 17-year-old student Park Su-hyeon when rescuers recovered his body. His father, Park Jong-dae, said he released it to give his mourning nation a glimpse of the April 16 tragedy from inside the vessel.
The video was released to select South Korea media Monday, the same day authorities released a video taken by a coast guard member showing the Sewol's captain fleeing the sinking ship while hundreds of passengers, most of them Danwon High School students on a class trip, remained below deck. The videos outraged the nation already devastated by the catastrophe. More than 300 of the 476 people who were on board are dead or missing.
The student video begins at 8:52 a.m. Korea time on April 16. The ship had just begun to list, and the chatter among students is a mix of humor and fear.
Early on, an announcement can be heard: "Don't move away from your places and brace for any possible accidents."
A student lightly asks "Am I going to die?" But another quickly chastises with "It is not time to laugh. We are in a real situation."
Moments later one student says "Dad, I don't want to die" and another adds "It will be fun if waters flow in."
Students are heard discussing problems with life jackets, an issue that increases in importance after an announcement is made to don life jackets. By the time the clip ends at 9:09, everyone in view is wearing one.
Some of the students in the video struggle as they try to buckle their life jackets. As the ferry lists, they joke about "final commemorative pictures" and "defying gravity" by trying to walk on the walls.
"It's like we're becoming the Titanic," one student says.
Passengers were repeatedly told to say in place. The announcement, at 9:08: "We're again announcing: For passengers who can wear life vests, please wear them now. Never move away from your places."
Captain Lee Joon-seok said he delayed evacuation because of worries about sending passengers into cold waters and fast currents before rescuers arrived. He said he ultimately ordered an evacuation, but it was not clear if that order was ever announced to passengers.
The captain and 14 crewmembers have been detained on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need. Prosecutors are investigating whether stability issues related to too much cargo or a redesign that added more cabins to the ship contributed to the sinking.
Some of the teens in the video use it to offer their last words. Some warn their siblings not to take school trips unless they want to end up like them.
"I'm really scared," a student says.
"Is it really sinking?" another asks. "Wow, they're giving us life vests."
"I'm getting out of here," one says. "Me too, me too," says another.
A student says: "We have to survive now."
"We're all finished. I have to leave some farewell words before I die," says another.
"Mom, I love you," says one.
Contributing: Jay Yang, USA TODAY; the Associated Press