Updated July. 10, 2014 09:17
A politically liberal online market has sparked heated controversies over its plan to sell bracelets commemorating the victims of the April 16 sinking of the ferry Sewol. Some criticize the plan as an attempt to take advantage of the disaster for profits, while some others support it as a good intention to remember the tragedy.
The online shopping mall, Jinbo Market, started selling commemorative bracelets for the ferry victims manufactured by the Korean Woman`s Environmental Network. Jinbo Market was opened in January 2013 to help laid-off workers and their families. The mosquito-repellent bracelet is colored in yellow and inscribed with the slogan "We Will Never Forget."
The controversies spread after the online seller said it would use profits from the sales of the bracelets to help laid-off workers. An Internet user raised issue with the plan, arguing that the profits should be spent for the victims and the bereaved families. Some other Internet users expressed negative views about the sale itself, criticizing the online market for trying to take advantage of the Sewol disaster. Another Internet user supported the cause of remembering the ferry victims.
Amid the controversies, Jinbo Market has deleted the information that the profits would be used for laid-off workers. An official at the online market said, "As the (bracelets) prices include shipping and credit card fees, they goods are nearly unprofitable. We are only acting as a proxy in selling the products for the Korean Woman`s Environmental Network." Regarding the criticisms about the selling of commemorative products, the official noted, "I think that a civic group can raise issue with the Sewol disaster and carry out campaigns."
As nearly three months have passed since the disaster, an increasing number of commemorative products are being offered. Many online vendors offer postcards and T-shirts as well as bracelets in memory of the victims. In one case, a man in his 20s has been criminally charged with attempting to make profits by taking advantage of the nationwide commemoration. In May, the Seoul police charged the man identified only as Cho for attempted fraud. He allegedly opened a fake commemorative Internet site to take donations and sell commemorative goods.