South Korean family of 3 were flying to Singapore to renew visas

The three South Koreans on board missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 were a family of Christian missionaries travelling to Singapore to renew their visas.

The Straits Times reported today that Park Seong Beom, his wife Lee Kyung Hwa and their 11-month-old daughter Park Yu Na were among the 155 passengers and seven crew members on board the plane that lost contact with air traffic control after take-off from Surabaya yesterday morning.

The daily reported that the South Korean foreign ministry had confirmed this while South Korean media had reported that the family was from Yeosu, a fishing village 450km from Seoul.

"I still can't believe the family is missing," it quoted Choi Hong Koo, a Yeosu First Presbyterian Church official.

Kim Sung Cheon, a church minister in Yeosu, said Park was sent to Indonesia three years ago and he married the following year.

He said as Indonesia did not issue missionary visas to foreigners, Park and his family had to fly out to Singapore every year to get an extension, although it was unknown what type of visas the family had.

Kim said the church and the organisation that helped Park stay in Indonesia would hold a meeting to discuss the incident, reported Korea Times.

Yonhap news agency reported that Park, a theology graduate, was devout, having been a part of the church since childhood.

Meanwhile, Singapore's The New Paper reported that Singaporean girl, Zoe Choi, two, and her British father Choi Chi Man were not supposed to be travelling on QZ8501.

They had to take a later flight when they could not get four seats together on an earlier flight together with Choi's wife and son.

The paper reported that Choi, who was born in Hull, Yorkshire, worked in Indonesia but lived in Singapore. He was a multi-lingual unit managing director at Alstom Power, who spoke English, Chinese and French.

The paper also reported that Choi's wife and her parents had waited anxiously for his and their daughter’s arrival at Changi International Airport.

QZ8501 was halfway between Surabaya and Singapore when it lost contact and disappeared. The Korean couple's daughter was the only infant on board while there were 16 children and 138 adults.

Indonesian officials now believe the plane had crashed in bad weather and was "at the bottom of the sea". – December 29, 2014.