Clinical psychologist Sunyoung Kim will discuss research on the families of victims and survivors of the Sewol ferry disaster in a colloquium titled “Trauma Responses of the Bereaved Families and the Survivors’ Families of the Sewol Ferry Disaster” at the Center for Korean Studies May 1, 2019, at 12 noon.
The Sewol sank April 16, 2014, while enroute from Inch’on to Cheju, resulting in deaths of 304 passengers. A majority of the victims were high school juniors on a field trip. This disaster became complicated by political circumstances in Korea and is still not fully resolved.
Professor Kim will describe research that looked at the traumatic effects of the disaster on the families of both victims and survivors of the disaster. The study compared the two different groups of families and their changes over time by measuring their mental health at two time points (a year apart) in order to examine how the two groups differ and how the families are recovering from the trauma.
The study used data collected from 112 individuals who were family members of the deceased victims or the survivors. The research included questions regarding depression, anxiety, PTSD, PTED (Post-traumatic Embitterment Disorder), PTGI (post-traumatic growth), and quality of life.
The research results indicated that the two groups were more similar than different in terms of anxiety, depression, PTED, PTGI, and quality of life, in spite of the difference in their trauma (death of a child or not). Professor Kim speculates that the socio-political circumstances and how the disaster was handled in society might have been the common factor that has been hindering their recovery regardless of whether they lost a child.
Sunyoung Kim is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Hawai’i at Hilo and a contributing faculty member in gender and women’s studies. She received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Boston University in 2004. Prior to joining UH Hilo, she was a research associate in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine, where she directed several treatment outcome studies on anxiety disorders funded by National Institute of Mental Health and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
In Korea, Dr. Kim worked at a research institute in which she carried out government-funded research projects on sexual violence and crime. She co-founded the first rape crisis center in Korea with colleagues and volunteered at the center as a counselor. Dr. Kim’s research and clinical interests include treatment outcome of anxiety disorders including PTSD and panic disorder; cross-cultural approaches to trauma, resilience, and mental health behaviors; and women and minority issues in clinical psychology.
Center for Korean Studies colloquia are free and open to the public. For further information, including information regarding access for the handicapped, telephone the Center at (808) 956‑7041. This program is supported by Academy of Korean Studies grant AKS2018-E-31. The University of Hawai’i is an equal employment/opportunity/affirmative action institution.