On April 16th we had the first anniversary of the sinking of the Sewol Ferry. The tragedy is now well know throughout the world and Korea is still looking for answers. 476 passengers and crew were on a trip from Incheon to the holiday island of Jejudo-- 11 hours after leaving Incheon it sank killing 304.
Bishops' Mass Media
Committee and the Seoul Diocese sponsored a forum on the sinking of
the ferry and the Church's role in dealing with the wounds caused by
the tragedy. The topic continues to be contentious for only small
steps have been taken to appease the anger of the parents of the
victims; the independent inquiry the parents want is still far from
The movement to 'live correctly' was one of the
presentations at the forum, and what can be learned from the tragedy.
Progress and development are positive goods but they also come with some
serious negative results if we forget who is meant to benefit from the
progress. The professor recalled the corruption that was involved, the
lack of concern for people in the pursuit of financial profits,
selfishness, greed, taking the easiest way to the greatest benefits,
forgetting responsibility and the need for competency, unfettered
competition with no concern for the damage that results prepares for a
One of the presenters mentioned many
of the Catholic laity did not show an interest in the aftermath of the
tragedy for the victims.
We need to break down the narrow mindedness and concern only for our own
needs, and our failure to go out to others who are hurting.
mother of one of the victims mentioned many individuals showed
solidarity with the victims and parents. Solidarity was shown from below
but she lamented that the government showed little of this concern.
A psychology professor mentioned at the
port closest to the place of the disaster there was a lack of
sensitivity shown to the victims and the families by some of the
government civil servants, which left a lasting wound on the families of
Cardinal Yeom, who gave a talk of
encouragement to the forum members mentioned when the ferry sank,
many of our values and societal trust went down with the
ferry and the victims. He hopes the tragedy will be a light that will
show us our future direction.
Transparency is a
difficult attitude to attain for it allows the truth to appear no matter
the harm done to the individual or group. Most of the time it is not
something a person or group permits to happen without outside pressure.
Hopefully the truth of the Sewol disaster, which is mostly known, will be
allowed to be part of Korea's history and a lesson to future