The broken hull of the Sewol ferry Photo courtesy Getty Images
Korea was reminded yesterday of a national tragedy that took place on April 16, 2014.
The Sewol ferry sunk just off the coast of Jindo Island killing more than 300 people, most of whom were high school students on an excursion to Jeju.
The disaster is a black mark on Korea’s modern history. The poor handling of this incident by the Park Geun-Hye administration, as well as the crews egregious dereliction of duty, sparked national outrage.
The captain of the ship failed to issue an evacuation order, telling people aboard to stay in their rooms and that everything was going to be fine even as he was readying his own escape.
The captain, the chief engineer, and the chief and second mates were the first people to be rescued. The captain is currently serving a life sentence for homicide as a result of willful negligence.
Now that the Sewol has been salvaged, it will undergo sterilization. It will then be inspected for safety measures so that a full investigation of the vessel can take place, and the search for nine people whose bodies were never found can begin in earnest - four school children, two teachers, and a married couple and their child.
Family members of those still not accounted for are hoping that the remains will be identified so that they may finally find some kind of closure.
The sinking of the Sewol was one of the many reasons why former president Park was impeached last month. Many contend that she didn’t do nearly enough to address the situation as it was taking place.
Former president Park was recently arrested and is now under investigation on an assortment of charges including corruption.
With a presidential election in May and now the Sewol on land again, issues related to greater governmental oversight, transparency, accountability, and public safety will most certainly be key issues.
Hopefully, this terrible loss will galvanize both public and political resolve so that a similar event will never be repeated.
▲ A terrible tragedy, a symbol for change Photo courtesy Yonhap News
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