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Mother of South Korean Train Accident Hero Thanks those who Remember in Japan

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Shin Yoon-chan speaks to reporters in a Zoom online conference on Jan. 20.

SEOUL — The mother of a South Korean student who died trying to help a Japanese man who had fallen off a train platform at JR Shin-Okubo Station in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, thanked those who remembered her son ahead of the 20th anniversary of the accident.

“I would like to thank people who haven’t forgotten him,” said 71-year-old Shin Yoon-chan of Busan, South Korea, while speaking to members of the press, including The Yomiuri Shimbun, in a Zoom online conference.

The 37-year-old Japanese man fell from a JR Yamanote Line platform at the station on Jan. 26, 2001. Lee Soo-hyun, who was 26 at the time, and 47-year-old Japanese photographer Shiro Sekine jumped onto the tracks to save him, but all three were fatally struck by the arriving train.

Before his death, Lee said that he wanted to become a bridge between Japan and South Korea. To honor his wish, his parents set up a scholarship to support students from Asian countries and territories studying in Japan.

Lee’s father died in March 2019.

Lee’s mother used to visit the station every year on the anniversary of her son’s death to pray for his happiness in the next life. However, she cannot come to Japan this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, her representatives in Japan will place flowers at the station on her behalf.

“I am powerless, but thanks to all of you, I can continue with my activities. I’d like to tell my son, ‘Your mother is working hard,’” she said to the reporters.