Friday, May 09, 2014

Tragedy & Hubris

The recent sinking of the MV Sewol in Korea (세월호침몰사고) was a terrible disaster. Over 260 people drowned unnecessarily. Most of the trapped were young people; some no doubt survived in air pockets for minutes or hours before succumbing in the cold & darkness. 

Korea celebrates her achievements alone, and now perhaps believes this tragedy is hers alone. But we live in a global world - any of us could have been a passenger on the doomed ship. I've myself traveled six times to Jeju (not yet by boat), but also often travel on cruise ships (across the Baltic, around Japan, touring the Adriatic, etc.). Many travelers have faced danger from overloading, poor management, inadequate safety planning, etc. Many around the world pray for those lost & their families, and we hope the lessons of the Sewol tragedy are not soon forgotten.

Part of the problem was poor oversight. It's too easy for this type of accident to occur in Korea's "hurry-hurry" society. Leadership is often untrustworthy. Revealing contempt & distrust of authority some days after the Sewol sinking was a Seoul subway accident on 2nd May (link here). The BBC reported "A witness said many passengers ignored an onboard announcement telling them to stay inside and forced the doors open, escaping on to the tracks." They probably put themselves in added danger, but preferring to act somehow and take care of themselves

Are Koreans so different from the rest of the world? Surely there are many people elsewhere who foolishly trust their leaders. Government transparency and strong regulatory safety are essential elements to continued success. Unfortunate cheating endangers us all. Insensitive corporations often abuse government officials to advance private profits over public health.

Humanity mourns those lost. They could have contributed widely, but...