After Sewol Ferry Disaster, Koreans Lower Trust in Government

About 600 bereaved family members of the SEWOL FERRY DISASTER victims — many of them high school students — joined a march in Gwanghwamun Square, a government district and popular rally spot, But it ended in a scuffle when demonstrators tried to break through police lines, injuring several people.

So why the paranoia over demonstrations in this powerful and stable democracy, where free speech hardly poses an existential threat to peace, order and the rule of law?

Traffic was halted and sidewalks were obstructed to prevent the advance of a mass demonstration of, well, poetry readings and memorial songs for victims of the Sewol ferry sinking.

The event revealed the incredibly low trust that the South Korean government places in its people — and the extent to which its people return the favor. The thousands of demonstrators were suddenly halted on the final stretch of a peaceful two-day rally, while demanding a parliamentary investigation into the disaster that killed close to 300 people.

After Sewol Ferry Disaster, Koreans Lower Trust in Government NBC News

South Korean ferry victims’ families stage hunger strike to urge passing of Sewol bill

Political parties remain deadlocked over the legislation of a special bill aimed at addressing issues resulting from the Sewol ferry disaster in April, prompting victims’ families to stage a hunger strike on Monday to urge the immediate formation of a probe team.

The families have been conducting a sit-in at the National Assembly since Saturday to criticise lawmakers tasked with writing the “special Sewol bill,” named after the ferry sinking that left more than 300 dead or missing.

They are demanding that the probe team be given the right to investigate the maritime disaster and indict those responsible under the special law.

South Korean ferry victims’ families stage hunger strike to urge passing of Sewol bill Publication

Sewol and Costa Concordia: two sea tragedies strikingly alike

“A case of Schettino in Korea” has been the recurring headline in Italian newspapers in the past few days – a reference to the Italian liner’s captain now on trial for an accident in which 32 people lost their lives.
The same number of people are now confirmed dead in the Sewol tragedy, while 270 people are still missing.

As frustration and despair run high in the South Korean republic, everyone’s attention has focused on the 69 year old captain Lee Joon-Seok, who, witnesses say, chose to flee the tilted ship without a minute-long hesitation. Earlier on Friday he was arrested along with two of his crew members. Here are five similarities between the disasters
Captain in charge
Delayed evacuation
Captain leaves
Capsized ship
Difficult rescue

Sewol and Costa Concordia: two sea tragedies strikingly alike Voice of Russia
Ferry Disaster Compared to Costa Concordia Maritime Executive
Captains Uncourageous: Abandoning Ship Long Seen As A Crime NPR

Questions mount in South Korean ferry disaster; hundreds still missing

Jindo, South Korea (CNN) — Anguished relatives of missing South Korean ferry passengers waited somberly for answers Thursday as rescuers fought bad weather, murky water, darkness and time to find a way deep into the capsized ship.

Authorities believe 276 people — many of them high school students on a field trip — may remain trapped inside the five-story ship. At least some, authorities say, could still be alive more than a day after the ship rolled over.

Meanwhile, the ferry’s captain is facing mounting questions about the incident.

Among other things, authorities are investigating the possibility the ship was off course when it ran into trouble, as well as reports that few of its lifeboats made it into the water, according to Kim Soo Hyeon, the chief of South Korea’s Yellow Sea Maritime Police Agency.

Ferry captain Lee Joon Suk, his head and face covered, broke down in tears when reporters asked if he had anything to say.

“I am sorry, I am at a loss for words,” Lee said at a South Korean Coast Guard office.

At least 20 people are known dead, according to the South Korean Ministry of Security and Public Administration. As of Thursday night, at least 179 had been rescued.

Weather hinders rescue

More than 170 ships and 512 divers have swarmed the ferry about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the Jindo, South Korea, harbor where relatives have gathered.

But poor conditions have kept rescuers from reaching parts of the ship where air pockets could be sustaining survivors, authorities said.

Can they survive in air pockets?

Relentless rain, whipping winds and thick fog stymied rescue efforts Thursday. Three of the 22 volunteer divers who joined the search went missing in high tide but were later found, YTN said.

Efforts to pump air into the ship also failed because of the bad weather.

Despite government assurances that rescuers would work around the clock to save lives, some relatives were angry about the pace of the rescue operation.

“If the government cares for the people, our family, our children, please rescue our families and our children,” said Chang Min, whose second-grade son is among the missing.

‘Don’t move’

The ferry, which is designed to carry cargo and vehicles as well as passengers, was on a routine passage between Incheon and the resort island of Jeju when something went awry shortly before 9 a.m. Wednesday.
On board were more than 300 Seoul high school students and teachers on a four-day trip to the island.

Questions mount in South Korean ferry disaster; hundreds still missing CNN
S Korea ferry: Bad weather hampers search for survivors BBC
South Korea ferry: Hundreds missing as ship sinks BBC
Students Among Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks New York Times
Nearly 300, mostly teens, missing after South Korean ferry sinks CBS News
Hundreds feared drowned in ferry disastere USA Today
South Korea ferry sinking Fox News
South Korea ferry riders texted desperate messages to loved ones as boat sank New York Daily News
South Korea Ferry Disaster: A Nation Searches for Answers Time News
‘I love you,’ student texts mom from sinking South Korea ferry LA Times