|Kim Yun-soo, left, a high school senior who designed memorial T-shirts for the 46 soldiers killed or missing from the 2010 sinking of ROK Navy ship Cheonan, poses for a photo with Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Sim Seung-Seob, on his visit to the Gyeoryongdae military headquarters in South Chungcheong Province to deliver 80 T-shirts, Monday. Courtesy of Republic of Korea Navy|
By Jung Da-min
Nine years since the Cheonan sinking, a high school senior's years of donation activities for the bereaved families of the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) sailors who died from the tragedy in the West Sea have come into the spotlight recently.
Kim Yun-soo, a 17-year-old student of Okchon High School in North Chungcheong Province, has been selling T-shirts he designed in memory of the ROKNS Cheonan, or the PCC-772, since last year, to help the bereaved family members of the 46 soldiers killed or missing after the warship was sunk by a North Korean torpedo fired from a midget submarine in March 2010.
On Monday, Kim donated 10 million won ($8,461) to the Navy's scholarship foundation for the bereaved families of missing or dead soldiers. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Sim Seung-Seob the same day presented an appreciation plaque to Kim, who visited the Gyeryongdae military headquarters in South Chungcheong Province to present Sim with 80 T-shirts.
One of the T-shirts Kim designed has been put on display beside the tombs of the 46 victims of the sinking in Daejeon National Cemetery, the place where Kim first came up with the idea for his donation activities.
"I visited the Daejeon National Cemetery with my friends on June 6, 2017, wanting to have some meaningful time to mark the Memorial Day," Kim told The Korea Times. "Seeing the bereaved family members of the 46 sailors, I wanted to help them and later came up with the idea of designing memorial T-shirts."
After a year of planning, Kim launched his donation project in April 2018, taking it first to Facebook.
Kim said people around him including his friends encouraged him, and some online shopping malls also helped him to sell the T-shirts.
"I was happy that people around me including my parents and friends started to pay more attention in honoring those who sacrificed themselves for the country," he said. "I think this is our duty to remember and honor them. Who would want to serve the country if their devotion gets no recognition?"
Kim said he hopes more South Koreans would recognize the efforts made by military personnel and police officers to keep this country safe.
Kim, now a high school senior, is also studying to join the Korea Naval Academy to become a Navy officer.