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Prayers on social media for victims of ferry disaster

The capsize and sinking of the 6,325-tonne South Korean ferry Sewol on Wednesday has led to people in the social-media community around the world - already saddened by the tragedy of missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 - now turning to pray for South Korea.

Hash tag #PrayForSouthKorea has been created on Twitter and is being used to express people's best wishes for the Koreans, especially for the almost 300 passengers who are still missing, and for their families.

Many Thais are expressing their best wishes through this hash tag, most of them teenagers, who keep in touch with South Korean TV series, movies, and music via K-Pop fan clubs.

They gather, share and tweet the latest information on the Sewol disaster, with any messages tweeted and posted in Korean translated into Thai.

One of the most popular topics spurred over social media concerns the messages that students on the ferry sent to their families following its capsizing. These have added a dramatic extra emotional dimension to the tragedy.

One example is the "Sending this in case I may not be able to say this again. Mom, I love you" message sent by Shin Young-jin to his mother via Korea-based chat app Kakao Talk, which was widely circulated in the South Korean media.

He is one of the 179 people who have been rescued from the stricken ferry, according to Agence France-Presse.

Meanwhile, South Korean media outlet The Kyunghyang Shinmun obtained a screenshot of an emotional text-message exchange between a student aboard the ferry and his mother, reported on the Mashable website.

Language is not an obstacle, as the messages texted in Korean were then translated into many languages, including English and Thai.

However, the other side of the coin is that during the unfolding tragedy, and with so many messages having circulated in the social media through to the mainstream media - not only in South Korea but also internationally - some of them have been bogus.

Mashable reported that South Korean police said on Thursday that there were no records of any phone calls, SMS or messenger-app communications from the phones of still-missing people after midday on Wednesday, leading to the belief that the messages that have circulating in the media were hoaxes.

A National Police Agency officer told Korea Real Time that a suspect is under investigation for inventing the messages.

Meanwhile, in the Thai media, Nation Multimedia Group yesterday arranged a "Thailand prays for South Korea" event, which invited people to join in praying for South Korea over the ferry tragedy at the Nation Downtown Studio, located at Siam Discovery.

One thing is certain: we will keep praying for those on board MH370 and for the missing passengers of the Sewol across social-media timelines, and across platforms, and messages continue pouring in via #PrayForMH370 and #PrayForSouthKorea.


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