15 crew members of the Sewol ferry tragedy are on trial for murder and negligence in the death of the passengers. They left behind hundreds of passengers heartlessly, is the accusation, to save themselves. The country is awaiting the verdict. Many of the citizens who watched the rescue efforts see it as murder by omission while practitioners of the law, see prosecuting the crew for murder as going too far.
The editor of one of the newspapers reflects
on the tragedy and the trial on the opinion page of the Catholic Times.
She tells the readers that many of the countries in Europe have the
'Good Samaritan Law' on the books which would consider what was done by the crew a
serious crime.The 'Good Samaritan Law' would require that you help a
person who is in a difficult situation. In France a person despite
having the time, refusing to help a person who
dies, should prepare to spend 5 years in prison. In Germany it would be
3 years. China has a similar law when one refuses to help.
writer tells us legal positivism is the basis for Korean law, meaning
that virtue and law are strictly separated. She gives the example of problems with
children in nurseries where working mothers leave the children. Not
infrequently the mothers do not pick up the children on time. To prevent
this from happening, they prepared a monetary penalty. However, this
only made matters worse for the mothers brazenly felt that they were now
entitled to have the children stay later since they were paying the
Nowadays, when one doesn't stop for the passing
ambulance, one is fined 200 dollars. Without this penalty and leaving it
up the consciences of the individual the results were far from what was
expected. What is needed, she says, more than law is a feeling of common sense to permeate society; not the kind of superficial
understanding that comes from one mind to another, but a feeling that
comes from one heart to another. She mentions the philosopher Hannah
Arendt, who considered this common sense of extreme value in society. In
the competitive society that we have, this common sense becomes important in the raising of our children. Common sense is
similar to a social sense. They are different, but it is a respect of
the other and the appreciation of harmony and beauty. Without this
common sense, the market-logic, competitive-logic and capital-logic
will overcome us with coldness and greed.
To save this
common sense it is necessary to be familiar with art and literature.
Confucius also said something similar that with ritual and music, we will not
have crime. Familiarity with the arts, the children will become
She concludes with an anecdote about the author of Dr.
Zhivago, Boris Pasternak, who on a cold day went outside to find wood
for the fire and the log had a sprout coming out, he put down the log
and spent the night in the cold. This kind of sensitivity to beauty and harmony she hopes parents will try to develop in their children.
With this sensitivity to life, the problems that we had
with the Sewol tragedy will slowly disappear in our society.