I think of the kids I teach, all their different personalities, their crushes on singers, their smiles, their laughter and I'm devastated, because even though they weren't my students, I can picture them. I can see them excited about a rare break from studying, chatting with their friends and making plans about their futures.
Korean bonds are strong. Good friends link arms in public and there isn't really a personal space boundary, so I also can imagine the children, boys and girls alike clutching to each other in fear, yet trusting the adults to tell them what to do and I feel anger that the people they trusted, were more concerned about covering their own asses.
The crew would naturally follow the captains orders and many job contracts in Korean are writing that employees must do exactly what their boss tells them to do unless it is against the law. This means if your boss tells you to get coffee every day and take his dry cleaning to the dry cleaners, you have to obey. There are thousands of small tasks my Korean friend is asked to do and that she must do not to break this rule, but have nothing to do with the job she was hired for. If she were in a situation where she had make a decision-- say the water main broke and her boss was taking a tap, but she was given direct orders not to disturb her boss, she would feel like she had been put between a rock and a hard place.
Precious minutes were lost-- perhaps has many as fifteen-- getting captain from his cabin (perhaps waking him up). The crew were not dithering because they were incapable of evacuating the ship, but because they've been trained from babies that they can't make them without permission when an elder is on board.
This is one of the reasons the captain was nearly seventy. Even if the company had the best captain in the world, if he was younger than one crew member, that older crew member could disobey orders. But simply giving orders to an older person is considered rude. (Our financial manger at Yeongju English power simply by virtue of her age and pretty much runs the roost.)
More precious time was lost with the captain trying to get the ship righted, trying and failing twice. Experienced as he was, maybe he could have done it if the ship hadn't been overloaded, but I deeply suspect that his decision to have the students remain below deck had more to do with covering his own ass. He wasn't where he was supposed to be and knew it. There are a lot of would of, could of, should of's.
Disclaimer: None of the pictures are of the Sewol.
Question: Why don't ships have rope ladders everywhere, so if the shop does tilt, people can use them to escape? Why don't boats have "air bags" that can inflate to slow down the ships rate of sinking?
Mariel R. is an ESL teacher, horse trainer, writer, editor, sporadic blogger, and lover of beer. She lives in South Korea with two cats, three horses, a German Shepherd and 17 chickens.
Bear (Gom in Korean) then (above) now (below)
Geumbi (Goldy in English) R.I.P February, 23, 2018