There has been a thick feeling of grief and regret in the Korean area this past week. I am referring to the Sewol ferry tragedy that happened last Wednesday, April 16. With several mistakes overlapped, a ferry to Jeju Island sank, costing the lives of hundreds – a majority of them high school students. Over 150 people are confirmed dead, and over a hundred still missing. With no survivors eight days later, there is little chance that anyone other than the 174 already rescued will make it out alive.
Each individual had rich memories, likes and dislikes, dreams and aspirations, inside jokes, friend drama, skills and talents. Now, it has all been taken away and it breaks my heart.
Most students did as they were instructed by the captain: stay in the cabin. They must have been frightened and unaware what to do, so they did as they were told, assuming the captain knows the correct safety procedures. Others recognized the dangers of staying inside as the ship steeply inclined and headed to the top. They made it out alive by disobeying and instead using their own judgment. Obedience to authority is valued and ingrained in Korean culture. This is an important lesson: don’t always listen to authority and use your own judgment! Trust your instincts.
I feel helpless in this situation. I will keep the affected people in my thoughts and hope that the passengers experienced as little suffering as possible. It is easy to get angry with the captain and inexperienced crew member who fled the scene without helping passengers, but let’s not forget the heroes and their selfless acts during the emergency.
Terrible preventable things happen in the world everyday. While it all scares me to no end, it is important to always hope for the best and never live in fear.