If you're here in South Korea you may have noticed little yellow ribbons hanging from trees, or pinned to peoples clothes. These yellow ribbons are part of a campaign (노란리본달기 캠페인) to pray for the victims of the Sewol ferry disaster in which more than 260 people have died, most of whom were high school students on a school trip to Jeju Island. The ferry started to sink 3 weeks ago, and divers are still searching for bodies.
The yellow ribbon tradition is said to have originated from an incident that occurred on a bus bound for Miami, Florida. It seems that one of the passengers had just been released from prison and he was bound for home. He had written to his wife and let her know he still loved her and wanted to be with her. He asked her to tie a yellow ribbon around the lone oak tree in the Town Square of White Oak, Georgia, if she still had feelings for him and wanted him to be with her. Everyone in the bus asked the Driver to slow down as they approached, and there was the yellow ribbon gently blowing in the breeze.
University students designed the above image of a simple ribbon inside a yellow square and began circulating it on Kakao Talk (an instant messaging application) on the 19th April. The yellow ribbons began as a way of representing the wish for loved ones to return safe and sound to their families. 'The meaning began as a hopeful one, "one small step, big miracle" but as as the death toll rose, it evolved into a national sign of grief'. CNN
These photographs were taken in the centre of our small town where all my students gather to pay their respects to those who have died.