Friday, March 24, 2017

Sewol Tragedy Revisited

On the morning of April 16 of 2014, the Sewol ferry sank on a trip from Inchon to Jeju island. The ferry capsized carrying 476 people, mostly high school students, 304 died. This tragedy has continued to smolder in society and a reason for the unfavorable impression given by president Park to many of the citizens.

The National Assembly with more than two-thirds majority voted to remove Park from office on charges of corruption, misconduct, and negligence. All eight of the Constitutional Court justices supported the actions of the National Assembly to impeach the president. Interestingly the allegations of negligence related to the sinking of the Sewol Ferry were seen as troubling but not a reason for impeachment. 

A series of articles in Bible and Life visited the issue again in a Before and After headline for the articles. One writer questions himself: if his daughter had died in the tragedy what would he have done? The feelings aroused with the sinking even after three years are still smarting. For many, it is the lack of transparency and the feeling that efforts are made to hide the reasons for the tragedy.

Why did the ferry capsize? The ferry was carrying more passengers than allowed and many points of illegality were ignored. Why didn't the passengers escape? Many who were in charge of the ship were temporary workers, with little training but took most of the punishment. It was shown that all of the passengers could have been saved if appropriate measures were taken but the confusion and failure in coordination and misinformation were reasons for the tragedy.

The families of the Sewol victims have been critical voices in movements for democracy in Korea and a reason for the mobilization of the citizens asking for the impeachment of the president. The yellow ribbons have been a sign both of mourning but also remembrance and a desire for social change.

Raising of the Sewol ferry had been delayed but just a few days ago, accomplished. There are many questions that will be answered with the raising of the ferry. There are still 9 victims whose bodies were never found, a difficult situation for the grieving parents. One writer mentions in his article the collapse of a gymnasium just a few months before the Sewol tragedy killing nine, added more pain to the Sewol sinking, and the citizen's desire for a new way of being Korea.

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