If there is something oddly familiar about the news that the erstwhile captain of the ill-fated South Korean ferry—which capsized and sank just a few hundred meters from dry land—botched the evacuation order and jumped ship before his passengers were safe, it’s because we’ve heard about this sort of maritime cowardice before. It happened in 2012, when Italian captain Francesco Schettino rammed his Costa Concordia luxury cruiseliner into the rocks off Giglio island. He, too, was among the first off the ship well in advance of the bulk of the passengers.
The two accidents are, of course, as different as night and day. The South Korean ferry captain, Lee Joon-Seok, was not on the bridge when his ferry took a tight turn, possibly capsizing because it had been loaded over capacity with heavy cargo.