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Profiles of some of SKorean ferry's dead, missing

Tuesday - 4/22/2014, 10:48am  ET

In this Monday, April 21, 2014 photo, a photography of Park Hye-son's girlhood is shown by her mother Lim Son-mi, in Jindo, South Korea. Park Hye-son is among the 302 people dead or missing in last week’s South Korean ferry disaster. Lim said the 16-year-old daughter wanted to be a television screenwriter. But Lim’s wages from working at a daycare center meant she didn’t have enough money to send her younger daughter to the writing academy she’d wanted to attend. (AP Photo/Gillian Wong)

GILLIAN WONG
Associated Press

JINDO, South Korea (AP) -- A bicycle, never ridden. A lipstick prank pulled off by old friends. Mother-daughter conversations that now burn in the memory, laden with regret.

Among the 302 people dead or missing in last week's South Korean ferry disaster, there are a multitude of stories. Here are just a few:

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PARK HYE-SON

Hye-son's mother, Lim Son-mi, says the 16-year-old wanted to be a television screenwriter. But Lim's wages from working at a daycare center meant she didn't have enough money to send her younger daughter to the writing academy she'd wanted to attend. Her older daughter was already pursuing music and art, tuition for which was not cheap.

"I told her, 'Let's see after your sister is done with her education,'" Lim, 50, recounted.

"I'm so sorry now that I said that. I wish she had been born in a rich family that could give her what she wanted."

Hye-son, who remains missing, was among the 323 students from Danwon High School in Ansan, near Seoul, who were aboard the ferry Sewol on a trip to the southern island of Jeju.

Sometimes she and Lim clashed, as teenage daughters and their mothers often do. But it is painful for Lim to look back on those moments now.

Once, she recounted, her daughter yelled, "I just want to die." Lim, in a fit of anger, responded, "Then why don't you go and die?"

"She liked her dad more than her mom," Lim said, tears rolling down her face. "I've done nothing for her."

In an unusual gesture, Hye-son texted her a few days before the school trip to say, "Mom, I miss you." Lim said she wrote back in jest, "You must be kidding!"

Lim even berates herself for not insisting that her daughter eat a full breakfast the morning she left home the last time. She had a serving of yogurt instead.

"I'm sorry I wasn't a good mother," she said.

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NAM HYUN-CHUL

Hyun-chul's parents poured their energy, love and attention into their only child, said an uncle of the 16-year-old, Lee Jong-eui. Though an overseas education is often pricey, his parents had sent him to school in New Zealand for a while. It was only last year that he returned to South Korea and started going to Danwon High, where he excelled in English.

He loved baseball and basketball, and Lee would often take him to baseball games. "He's a very positive child. He is not the kind of kid who is shy and can't go out," Lee said.

Hyun-chul, who is among the missing, went to church regularly and had many friends in the community. He would do volunteer work with the church on weekends and during school vacations, Lee said.

Two weeks before the trip, Hyun-chul visited his uncle.

"He was very excited about the trip" to Jeju, Lee said. "We gave him our blessings and told him to have fun and stay safe.

"Now this has happened, I can't believe it," Lee said while sitting at a gymnasium that's been turned into a shelter for the relatives of the ferry's missing passengers. Hyun-chul's parents, Lee said, fainted on the day they were told that their son was missing.

"The boy was all that they had," Lee said.

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LEE SEOK-JOON

After Lee Byung- soo, a single father, suffered a serious back injury from a motorcycle accident, he told his two sons not to ride any two-wheeled vehicles -- not even bicycles. That didn't stop his 15-year-old elder son, Seok-joon, whose body was recovered Saturday.

The Danwon High School student had been working as a waiter in a restaurant to help out with the family's expenses while Lee, a truck driver, was out of work. He used part of his savings to buy clothes for his father, but he was also saving up for something bigger.

The teenager recently told Lee he wanted to buy a bicycle. Lee advised him against it, fearful that he might get hurt. He said raised his sons with the affection he never had as a child.

"I'm always telling my sons how much I love them. My father used to beat me, so I make sure I never hit my sons," he said.

Seok-joon went ahead and bought the bike, Lee said. But he added, "My son never got to ride it."

It is not Lee's only regret.

"Before the ferry left, we had talked on the phone and I asked my son not to hang around on the deck. Maybe he stayed inside because of my advice," he said.

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