Funeral rites held for men killed in failed station rescue

Funeral rites were held for two men who were killed by a train Friday night when trying to rescue a drunken man who had fallen off the platform onto the tracks at JR Shin-Okubo Station on Tokyo’s Yamanote Line.

Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori and Foreign Minister Yohei Kono attended the funeral held for Lee Su Hyon, a 26-year-old South Korean student, at a Japanese language school Lee attended in Tokyo’s Arakawa Ward.

After offering condolences to the victim’s father, Lee Song Tae, 61, and mother, Shin Yoon Chan, Mori told reporters that he hopes young people in Japan will learn something from Lee’s courageous act.

“I want him to be a role model for the youth here,” Mori said, adding that he told Lee’s parents that he hopes the tragedy will inspire “wonderful relations between Japan and South Korea.”

South Korean President Kim Dae Jung sent a telegram to the parents that read, “(Lee’s) noble morality, that victimized himself in an effort to save somebody else, will be remembered by people in both South Korea and Japan forever.”

Referring to Lee’s grandfather, who was forcibly taken to Japan as a laborer during World War ll, his father said, “Different from his grandfather, my son came to Japan on his wish, and he is now being mourned for warmly by the Japanese people. What my son did deeply impressed so many people; he did not die for nothing.”

During the funeral, about 500 people offered flowers to the altar of Lee, who came to Japan about a year ago from Pusan. He was a senior at Korea University.

Later on Monday, Korea University was considering whether to honor Lee with an honorable graduation certificate, university sources said.

It was also considering whether to build a memorial monument to commemorate his conduct, they said.

Lee’s personal Web site has also been inundated with messages of condolence. Among those on the site’s bulletin board was one sent by someone identifying himself as South Korean that reads, “Your death must help Japanese understand the beautiful hearts of South Koreans.”

The government and the Metropolitan Police Department offered letters of appreciation to Lee and Yokohama cameraman Shiro Sekine, 47, who also was killed.

Bunmei Ibuki, chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, and Mutsutake Otsuka, president of JR East, attended Sekine’s funeral in Yokohama’s Kohoku Ward.

Prior to the funeral, Norio Usami from the MPD Shinjuku Station visited Sekine’s mother, Chizuko, to present her with a letter of appreciation from MPD Superintendent General Takeshi Noda.

Usami told reporters that the mother was so distraught that no words of condolence seemed appropriate.

Witnesses told police that Lee and Sekine immediately jumped down onto the tracks when Seiko Sakamoto, 37, who also died in the incident, fell from the platform.

The government had considered conferring a prime ministerial commendation on the pair, but decided not to as there is no precedent for presenting this award in a case in which a person has died while trying to rescue someone during an accident.

The commendation is given to people or organizations that contribute to the promotion of the arts, sciences and culture or for the implementation of important policies for the country.

Mindan praises Lee

The Korean Residents Union in Japan (Mindan) on Monday presented a statement of condolence for a South Korean student who was killed Friday in Tokyo by a train while attempting to rescue a Japanese stranger.

Mindan’s statement, written in Japanese, cited the action of Lee Su Hyon, 26, a student at a Japanese language school in Tokyo, as inspired by “courage and a sense of justice which could not overlook the crisis being faced by another.” “We will always remember what happened as our pride as South Koreans,” the statement read. It also vowed Mindan would transform the tragedy of Lee’s death into a force for fostering ties between Japan and South Korea.

Web site inundated

The personal Web site of a South Korean man killed by a train Friday during an attempt to rescue a Japanese man has been inundated with condolences.

Among the messages posted on Lee Su Hyon’s bulletin board, one by a man claiming to be South Korean says, “Your death must help Japanese understand the beautiful hearts of South Koreans.”

A person of South Korean descent in Los Angeles wrote, “I’m proud of you.”

A Japanese person wrote, “I felt chagrined to learn that your brave action deprived you of a promising future.”