Budapest unveils memorial to Danube tourist boat victims


BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungarian and South Korean officials inaugurated a memorial Monday in Budapest that commemorates the 28 people who died, most of them South Koreans, in a boating accident on the Danube River two years ago.

The two deputy foreign ministers pulled off a white ribbon draped around the memorial, a gray granite block engraved with the names of the victims. It is located along the river where the accident occurred near the Margaret Bridge, near the Parliament building.

“Let this monument stand here as long as Budapest stands! It will always pay tribute to the victims of the disaster and it will be a reminder of the special relationship between Korea and Hungary,” said Levente Magyar, the Hungarian official.

Choi Jong-moon, his South Korean counterpart, voiced his appreciation to Hungary for the memorial.

“I still remember the footage from the night of the tragic event. Many Hungarian people standing on the bridge and they prayed for the Korean victims, and they cried. It was very touching,” he said.

“This and the expressions of condolences from the Hungarian people have all helped us to cope with the loss,” he said.

He also said it’s been painful for victims’ families not to be able to visit the site of the tragedy recently due to the pandemic.

The disaster occurred on May 29, 2019, when the Viking Sigyn cruise boat collided with a smaller tourist boat carrying 33 South Koreans, causing that boat to sink instantly.

Just seven of the South Korean tourists aboard the Mermaid sightseeing boat survived. Two Hungarian crew members also died. The remains of one South Korean tourist have yet to be recovered.

Magyar said “the loss of our Korean brothers and sisters is entirely our own, their grief is our grief, their mourning is our mourning.”

The Ukrainian captain of the Viking Sigyn has been charged with reckless endangerment of navigation resulting in a fatality and 35 counts of failure to render assistance.

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