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The Sewol Ferry Tragedy

South Korea Ship SinkingI’m pretty sure everyone has heard about what is happening in S.Korea at the moment. I’ve been following this story everyday and it breaks my heart that so many people- many of them just 16-18, with their lives ahead of them have had their lives cut short already.

I’m quite an empathetic person and easily get upset or even cry about things that happen to other people even if it doesn’t directly affect me. This is just one of the things that has actually made me cry even though I don’t know any of those people on the ferry and I have no connection to what has gone on there whatsoever. It’s been a topic that me and dad have been talking about over dinner almost every day since it happened and I think that the support that all the S.Koreans have been giving the families and those involved is extremely admirable. The whole nation has mourned for those lost in this tragedy even though many of them are not involved in this incident.

There are still many unanswered questions and there are still many that have yet to be found. Here are just some of my thoughts on this incident:

  • Most of the crew survived– the ones that didn’t were the ones that stayed behind to try to help the passengers escape- see Park Jee Young. Why did the crew not do the same as Jee Young-ssi? She sacrificed her life to try to rescue the passengers, something her superiors apparently did not do. They should be leading by example and yet the member with the least experience and the most junior rank is the one that actually attempted to help. If more of the crew acted as she did, the number of deaths may not be as high as they are. I think in the case of the captain, it really is inexcusable. He is responsible for the welfare of his passengers, yet he was the first to run to save himself when hundreds of lives were in his hands. He might as well have held their heads down in the water with his bare hands.
  • There was no evacuation order -or at least the passengers didn’t seem to have heard it if there was. Despite Jindo Vessel Traffic Service advising them to evacuate, the captain did not relay this message to the passengers- log detailsThe captain has since said that he was worried about the passengers being cold etc and not surviving in the waters, however the fast pace at which the ferry sunk and the communications with the Jindo VTS should have made it clear that evacuation is their only choice for survival. The students and passengers were listening to him – putting their trust into him and his orders and they were the ones that suffered. There were also fishing boats and other boats that came to rescue the passengers – had they already evacuated with their life jackets on, many more could have been rescued. It was the people that stayed inside the ferry, listening to the captains orders that did not survive. If there was a choice between being out in the sea with a life jacket on, and being trapped in the ferry with no way of escape, surely being in the open would be better? 
  • The first distress call came from one of the studentsnot the crewYes, you read that correctly. Surely the first person that should have noticed there was something wrong should have been the crew. How is it possible that the first distress call came from a young boy? The crew didn’t even call until 3 minutes later that the crew established contact. Perhaps the crew thought they would be able to rectify it, however the fact that the boy and other students thought it was serious enough to call in and they said the ferry is tilting and water is coming in – this should have raised alarm bells straightaway for the crew. The speed at which the water was getting in and the boat was tilting should have also let the crew know that the passengers needed to get out not stay in! 
  • Most of the passengers did not question the captains orders – OK so I reckon for people coming from western countries, you’d be thinking ‘Why didn’t they just save themselves anyway, why didn’t they get out asap, why did they stay in just because the captain said so?’ Well S. Korea is big on authority. There was no reason to question the captains judgement. Hierarchy and seniority is quite a major thing there, so if the captain said stay, then most of the people will listen to him and do as they are told.
  • There are people faking stories and messages from survivors and even fake divers giving interviews How these people can live with themselves I do not know. All they have done is fueled more anger and heart ache for the families involved. Do they think it’s funny to toy with people’s emotions? What do they get out of these lies?! In particular, the imposter Hong Ga Hye, who was interviewed as a ‘rescue diver’ when she didn’t even get into the water! She told a bunch of lies that made everyone believe that the government was stopping rescues when infact rescues were still going on and everyone was doing what they could to try to help the situation. She has been known for many other incidences where she has pretended to be someone she isn’t, so I don’t understand how she is still doing this. She must have no heart.
  • The rescue and then suicide of vice principal This really breaks my heart. I can’t imagine what must have been going through his mind when he was being rescued. Part of me wonders how he got out when the rest of his students were still in the Ferry whether he just left them or whether he just happened to have got out during the confusion, however either way, I’m sure he was wondering the same thing. I don’t think he can be blamed for what happened, but I do hope that people remember him not as a bad person, but as a principal that really did care for his students.
  • Bodies are not being brought back to shore which will hopefully bring some closure to the families of those onboard the ferry -Bodies have been found huddled together – even tied together or holding their ID cards. I really did hope that by some miracle, there would be survivors still onboard. Perhaps there was a level somewhere or a room that had enough oxygen for the people to survive and they were all just sat in there waiting for rescue. I’ve realised, like many of the families involved, that this is not possible. It really breaks my heart that the families now have to identify their loved ones with their loved ones in such an awful state.  I can’t imagine how it must feel to know that you are about to die. It must have been heartbreaking for the families as well to know that their most precious people had to go in this way.

Obviously, I am no expert, I wasn’t there and all I have to go on is what I hear on the news. I’m trying to take everything I hear with a pinch of salt and only really listening to the news from reputable sources, but everything I heard makes me feel like many of these deaths could have been prevented had the crew evacuated the passengers. If most of the passengers were out in the open and had their lifejackets on, then so many more could have been rescued.

I hope that all those still missing will be found soon and the families can begin to get some closure. RIP to all those lost in the incident, I hope they did not suffer and whilst I would not call myself christian, I hope that they are living a better life somewhere above us. To those that were rescued – I hope you live your life well and be grateful for the second chance that you have. Make everything worth while and don’t throw your life away on drugs, drink or other reckless lifestyle choices. Incidents like this teaches us that our lives are sacred and we should be grateful for everything we have.



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