A Reflective Piece: The Sewol Ferry Incident

I must admit, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to write anything about this heartbreaking news on the blog because of how sensitive the topic is. However, I have a special place in my heart for Korea, and I often think of it as a second home. I met so many incredible people while I lived there as an exchange student, and I never thought that my experience living abroad in another country could be so comfortable and familiar. Despite being known for their blunt honesty, Koreans are passionate and caring and have so much love and compassion for those who show a deep appreciation for their culture and their country.

It is for that reason that I felt an urge and responsibility to speak up for myself and on behalf of the whole team here at Kimchee Magazine Korea to show our respect, as well as take some time to share some thoughts and opinions about the current situation that is plaguing the people of South Korea.

As you have likely already heard, the Sewol ferry carrying somewhere between 450-475 passengers (the exact number isn’t quite known) capsized due to a sudden turn while it was heading toward Jeju Island from Incheon. That’s about the only information I want to report here, and if you need more information, this report by CNN gives you more in-depth details.

Instead of acting as a reporter, I just want to send love words of support in this time of need. Regardless of the size of the disaster and the number of people affected, it is important to remember that families have been torn apart and people’s lives have been selfishly taken due to mistakes that could have been avoided with more planning and careful consideration.

I may be living in Canada at the moment, but I still spend a lot of time dreaming about going back to Korea. When I heard this news, I was devastated. What frustrated me the most about this whole ordeal, though, were the false reports about the safety of the passengers that gave the families and relatives false hope. Furthermore, I’m not sure what the captain was thinking when he decided to save himself before any of the passengers. He may have saved his own life, but he has brought shame upon himself and his dignity may never be able to be restored.

On top of that, there is a lot of talk about who is responsible for the re-design of the ferry. Apparently, it is was originally built to code, but it was renovated to add room for a higher capacity. Interestingly enough, though, the ferry was only around half capacity when it capsized, so was the additional revenue worth the risk? If that was the driving force for the ship being built too large, what’s the use of that extra money if hundreds of lives were taken to earn it?

A lesson for all of us: greed and selfish behaviour bring nothing but sadness and suffering. There is no denying that it is important to be independent and take care of oneself. We need to thrive and survive in this dog-eat-dog world, but I think in recent years, we have taken the fight for survival a little too far. We have forgotten how important it is to be there for the people who make this world the beautiful place that it is. The more time we spend caring about the well-being and happiness of those who surround us, the more that we will all prosper as a result.

When disasters like this happen, the most important thing to take away from it is that we can’t be selfish. We need to look past our differences, and realize that pain and suffering is something that no one should have to deal with. The South Koreans are experiencing so much pain and agony right now and we should do our part by taking a moment of silence to send good vibes and positive energy to those in need.

So, if you can, stop what you are doing for a minute or two, and send your thoughts and prayers to South Korea. I’m sure they will be greatly appreciated. Use hashtag #prayforsouthkorea on Facebook and Twitter to show your support.


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