SEOUL -- "Our sincere wishes for the safe return of Danwon students" reads the sign, with a photo of hands crossed in prayer, on the door of a shop on one of Seoul's busiest shopping streets.
As hope fades for 273 still missing three days after the ferry Sewol capsized and sank, what may be South Korea's worst maritime tragedy in four decades has cut short K-Pop concerts, marathons and flower festivals, turning spring into a season of grief, and fear.
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"I'm terrified after seeing the ship sinking with so many students aboard," said Son Moo Rie of Seoul, reluctant to let her daughter join 5th-grade classmates at Galsan Elementary School on a three-day field trip to the mountains next week. "I really hope the school cancels the trip."
Gyeonggi Province, home of Danwon High School, where 250 mostly 17-year-old students are among the missing, has canceled 45 cultural and athletic events, and postponed or cut back dozens of others. Jeju, the resort island destination of the Danwon students, canceled its annual sports day "indefinitely," the provincial government said.
Figure skating queen Kim Yuna delayed indefinitely a photo session at South Korea's mint to mark the release of commemorative medals for her retirement from competition.
The Lotte Group canceled a weekend concert series by K-pop stars 2PM and other groups and has shut down promotions for next week's debut of Kloud beer by its liquor business.
Marathons & Movies
Marathons planned tomorrow in Seoul, sponsored by New Balance Athletic Shoe Inc., and in Busan, sponsored by Adidas AG, have been put off while the search for victims continues, according to notices on the website of New Balance and the Facebook page of Adidas.
CJ E&M Corp., a media content provider, won't air disaster movies on film channels OCN and Channel CGV and canceled several programs on other cable channels out of respect for the ferry tragedy, according to an emailed response to a Bloomberg query. SNL Korea, a local spinoff of the U.S. program Saturday Night Live, won't air tonight on tvN, and tomorrow's Ultimate Fighting Championship bout between Fabricio Werdum and Travis Browne won't be shown on Super Action.
The Korean Baseball Organization has asked teams to curtail indefinitely cheerleader appearances, amplified cheering and other celebrations during games. Seoul's Doosan Bears team said on its website an autograph event tomorrow has been canceled, and there will be no cheerleading at its games.
Samsung Everland, a theme park owned by the country's largest conglomerate, canceled a three-day cherry blossom festival that was to open yesterday.
More than 600 divers are still looking for survivors, hampered by strong currents and low visibility. Authorities yesterday called the chance of further rescues "slim."