South Korean ferry Sewol: Getting it Straight

The April 16 disaster on the South Korean ferry Sewol actually caught us by “surprise”.. like, what? A South Korean ferry?? Sunk? Why?

Did it travel on rough seas or bad weather? Reportedly no. Was it overloaded? Again no. Did it hit something like an “iceberg”?? Obviously not. Was there trouble in the ferry like a gun battle, or terrorists taking over and causing a huge, huge commotion resulting in an unusual ship imbalance? Hey, passengers were basically high school students on a field trip to Jeju Island.


What about the crew? Were they qualified and fit to operate the ferry? Bet we could say so if only for the ability to navigate the seas. How about the ship itself? How large or small was it anyway? Was it in good condition to go on trips? Why, would the crew take that risk? Guess not. So, why?

The mentioned deficiencies are only possible in ferries of lesser “developed” countries where standards are lower and hazards could be “offset” by bribes. But not in a country like South Korea, and that’s what makes it surprising.

Still, one key would be confirming its “load” other than the ferry’s passengers, meaning authorities should be able to determine Sewol’s actual cargo and not simply its listed cargo. Here, bribing may have really happened.

Anyhow, when you storm into Yoo Byung-eun’s home, office, and affiliated organizations – do you know what you’re exactly looking for? For one, Yoo is the owner and not the ship’s captain.


Then again, if there’s fault in Yoo, it would be the modification of the ship. It should be done by professionals with safety not just money in mind.

As for the captain, bigger issues. First, he should be aware of his ship’s condition even before departure and during the trip itself. If it was modified then know if it was done correctly. Cargos should not be in overcapacity, but more so, it should be placed well. Why, do you think if the ship wasn’t overloaded it won’t tilt on a sharp turn with bad current? It still could, and would make ill-placed cargo roll.

Next, the captain should avoid sharp turns as much as possible. And lastly, decisions, decisions. When a ship rolls, don’t think of stabilizing it before evacuating your passengers. Calmly bring down your lifeboats and secure your passengers – delay is better than disaster.


At any rate, it already happened. And the “transcipt” as well as the ship’s history shows that it’s really a combination of everything..  and which Sewol could have lessened the damage (especially in casualties) if only the captain were more decisive.

In the end, an accident is the toughest kind of death to accept. Loved ones, friends, and family are just not ready for it. And so, politicians should not add salt to injury by just finger-pointing, but more than offering apologies and assistance – they should do what it takes to retrieve the missing bodies. Be the leader that people really needs – Empathetic.

What’s your take?


One thought on “South Korean ferry Sewol: Getting it Straight

  1. I hope the quotes around “surprise” were meant sarcastically.
    Of course a South Korean ferry… why should their ships be any different from their planes or buildings or cars?

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