Friday, April 18, 2014


This week has been a tough one for many South Koreans.

As many of you have likely heard, a ferry en route from the port of Incheon (home to Seoul's international airport) to the island of Jeju, sank.

South Korean ferry rescue operation
Image courtesy of
The ferry, Sewol, was carrying 475 people. Of those people, 28 have been confirmed dead. As of the most recent information I have, 268 people are still missing; of that number, 246 are high school students. The junior class of Danwon High School in Ansan, a suburb of Seoul, traditionally takes a trip to Jeju before the dreaded beginning of exams, so the entire junior class of that high school was on the ferry.

Sadly, at this point, it is doubtful that those who are missing are still living. It has been well over 48 hours since the ferry sank, any nearby land has been scoured, and the water is freezing.

To make things worse, one of people who did survive was the one person who should have stayed on the ship as it went down: the captain. According to this article, he's in pretty deep crap.

One of the other survivors, the vice-principal of the high school, hanged himself yesterday. He was among the parents of the missing teens. I can't imagine how it would feel to be a parent or administrator in this situation.

Speaking of admin, two points from this Wall Street Journal article really makes my emotions flare:
  • The parents were initially told that "nearly all students were safe." Later in the day, the those words had to be retracted; most students were still stuck. WOW. Am I glad I wasn't the one who had to say, "oops, my bad" in this case.
  • The students were told, when the ferry started sinking, to stay in time till further notice. Many obeyed, and they are the ones who are stuck. The ones who didn't listen jumped, and a good number of them survived. It is so wrong to me that while the captain was one of the people who survived, the obedient students went down with the ship.
No one I know was personally affected by the tragedy, but it has (understandably) weighed heavily upon my students' minds over the last few days.

Anyhow, the point of this is to send a quick update from closer to the incident. Not a happy story, I realize, but an important one to be aware of.


  1. I wondered how this was affecting you and your people over there. I hated hearing about it :(

    1. It seems that more people are being confirmed dead by the day. What a needless tragedy.