Flavour of the Month – Something Soggy

Prime Minister Chung Hong-won has announced his decision to step down from his post, due to the poor government response to the Sewol Disaster.  

As noted in the JoongAng Ilbo, Saenuri Dang leadership has been quick to react to the PMs departure:

. . . The news came as no surprise to the ruling Saenuri Party, who said that the prime minister’s resignation had been expected.
“The prime minister’s resignation was an expected scenario,” a Saenuri Party lawmaker told the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday. “Now the most important thing is wrapping up the accident and doing all we can in the matter.”

Which is meaningless, considering the source.

The real problem is the lack of credibility in the current government and level of institutional incompetence in place.  If there is going to be effective governance, it needs to be competent since the lives of many rest upon the decisions of the few.   It will take more than the political gesture of Chung Hong-won not being Prime Minister to make disasters like this one a thing of the past. It will also take political leadership that is needed to make for credible governance and the will to make change.  This government and others after will continue to shed ministers and toss prosecutors under buses for the sake of politics but a real change in political and social ethos is needed.  Personally, I think at least one of the JoongAng editors understands this too.

Changing a minister changes nothing.

  • redwhitedude

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corruption_Perceptions_Index

    This whole disaster shows why South Korea is ranked as low as it is. Among the developed nations it is ranked very poorly.

    Repeatedly disregarding safety regulations until an accident has to happen.

  • Sumo294

    Do you ever post something with real meaningful comments Mr. Elgin? Let me give you a taste of how you write.
    If future horrible tragic events are to be avoided in the future, one needs to make real changes instead of just giving lip service to the old ways of doing things. The changes need to be sensitive to the growing need to address current insufficiencies in structural reforms necessary to make the said changes. If the current government would only listen and make the needed adjustments then the changes will be lasting and have the wonderful and awesome way of making the needed changes last for a long time. As you can see from what I write–I made a strong statement of what is needed in the current times in Korea.

  • http://www.bcarr.com/ Brendon Carr

    Ha ha ha. I’m pretty sure Elgin is a chick.

  • Sumo294

    But I like writing like her–its addictive.
    Perhaps is not mannerly to use the word “chick” because it fails to capture the meaning of the word in the context that would be better conveyed by using a different expression. As you can see that by using such a word to denote the cultural ideas of a Confucian oriented Korea, the failure of the current administration and its refusal to modernize and accept new and more safe ethics have thus resulted in too many deaths that cause many of us more pain and not less pain. Therefore its now clear that PGH needs to reform her current administration.

  • bumfromkorea

    Wait. What?

  • DavidSmith

    So why does the Korean government spend so much welfare money on multicultural families yet so little on Korean-Korean children?

    Why does the Korean government discriminate against Koreans and treat multicultural families as greater beings?

    Why is the Korean government so anti-Korean?

  • bigmamat

    I’ve been saying this since the second day. Korea has the opportunity now to have a rational and reasoned national dialog about what role the government should play in public safety. Every time I mention this someone throws Katrina up in my face, which proves my point exactly. They just don’t know enough about the history of that tragedy to understand. I then have to point out to them that cronyism, corruption and lack of political will are not unique to any given society.

  • Aja Aja

    2000 people protest in middle of Myungdong, against the Park government. They blame Park Geun Hye for the disaster.

    Can anyone tell me that anything (the outcome) would have been different, if someone else or some other political party was in power?

    The lack of preparedness for emergency, lack of safety awareness, and corruption by those responsible for compromising safety is so deeply ingrained, I really doubt anything would have been different even if the DP was in power. But no surprise really politics is getting in the way of rational analysis of what went wrong to prevent similar levels of tragedies. They’ll fire the ministers, accept resignations, shuffle people around, and even vote the current party out. But in the end, it’s going to be just different people in the same positions, doing the same all over again, under the same system.

    So many people just don’t get it. Fix the broken system instead of overly concentrating on people’s personality or qualities.

  • Sumo294

    2,000 commies–hmnnnnn . . . I thought more would show up–very poor showing by the leftist moonbats–I guess the unions are sitting this one out.

  • DC Musicfreak

    Why not start with easy, concrete actions, like spot checks of life raft readiness on the major ferries around Korea, including the Han river ones, unannounced interviews of ferry crews on safety procedures, breathalyzer tests of crew and cargo checks to see how many companies routinely overload their vessels?

  • RElgin

    Humm, you remind me more of a butt-hurt Chosun Ilbo writer, which is strange.

  • Aja Aja

    I wouldn’t say ‘commies’. More like influenced by all the negative media reports on her. I’ve read all the reasons why this is all her fault, but I’m still scratching my head as to why it’s all really her fault. They’re not explaining to me clearly what exactly she has done that was bad which would make this her fault, other than telling us that she screwed up everything. One person, even a president of Korea, is not omnipotent (I agree with Jung Mong Jun’s young son). I doubt it would be enough, even if she donned a wetsuit and dived into rescue those poor souls. It just seems to me, this is turning into another political mud fest. Disgusting, really.

  • Aja Aja

    They’re too busy laying blames to think that rationally.

  • Anonymous_Joe

    Frankly, before this incident I would say all that does is increase the opportunities for the inspectors to line their pockets.

    I hope that this tragedy is Korea’s wake-up call and that business as usual is no longer usual.

  • Anonymous_Joe

    “They’ll fire the ministers, accept resignations, shuffle people around, and even vote the current party out. But in the end, it’s going to be just different people in the same positions, doing the same all over again, under the same system.”

    They needed to fire the ministers. Although the malfeasance was usual, the tragedy happened on their watch. PGH absolutely needs to fire all the ministers government agents who presided over this to show that people lose their jobs for not doing their jobs.

  • Aja Aja

    If they need to fire them, then fire them. But what’s really the problem here? The characteristics of the cabinet ministers, or the mindset of bureaucrats and the bureaucratic system? How about strengthening law enforcement and punishment? No more slaps on the wrists. Constant revolving doors of different personnels is not going to change anything. As Joongang Ilbo says:

    “The bureaucrats have no regard for the people. What they care for are their prospects for promotion and post-retirement jobs. The government is of the bureaucrat, by the bureaucrat and for the bureaucrat – instead of the people.”

  • bigmamat

    No but she has what we call in the U.S. the “bully pulpit”. She’s the president. What she doesn’t have the actual power to do she can influence. It’s not going to solve anything turning into an angry mob either. Resignations are not the answer either since the problems regarding this tragedy are not the sole purview of this administration. I believe this problem is probably older than Park’s presidency.

  • bigmamat

    I wonder if you actually think anyone cares about your opinion when you voice it in such a way. We get it you’re a conservative. Why not try being an adult too.

  • Aja Aja

    Come to think of it, how would the pundits who subscribe to Korea’s strict hirarchial culture describe this violent responses to the government? If their theory is correct, everyone should have kept quiet, obeyed, and accepted the explanations put out by the Confucian authorities without asking any questions. Instead, it’s exactly the opposite of what they’re supposed to do.

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    I think you are really missing the point.

    The fact that usually “they have to keep quiet, obey and accept the explanations”, as well as the many many suspected shady deals, cover ups by the authorities which reach extend all the way to the top, as well as rooted all the way to the bottom *in everyday circumstances* is why it takes a tragic event like this for the simmering sentiment to really erupt and show itself.

    A figurehead is just that. One cannot distance oneself from (유체이탈) the ills of the society one is the figurehead of, and that is the reason behind much of the anger one sees.

  • bigmamat

    I posted on this site that Confucianism didn’t have anything to do with a bunch of teenagers drowning because they followed orders. I said that I very likely would have drowned too. If the crew told me to stay put I very likely would have done the same. I know how cold and ugly that water was and would not have wanted to go in it unless absolutely necessary. Plus what do I know about being on a sinking ship? I also don’t think the entire mess of overloaded cargo holds, improper inspections etc. are uniquely Korean either. I’m an American after all and companies kill, maim and poison people here all the time with impunity.

  • bumfromkorea

    Absolutely. The jaw-dropping uncouth behaviors of the Saenuri party and the conservatives aside, I honestly can’t fault the PGH administration for handling of the rescue/recover operation (another exception being the horrific miscommunication initially when they announced that everyone on board was rescued).

    Considering the local currents, weather, water visibility, etc., I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt. The problem here clearly was the events that led up to this tragedy, not the handling of the tragedy itself (again, aside from the exceptions mentioned above). No one is more inept than an expert in the hindsight of a layman.

  • bumfromkorea

    As a leftist moonbat union member, I resent that statement.

  • wangkon936

    I would have, at the very least, gotten to the side where the ship was not tilting and gotten ready for a quick exit if the ship started to tilt beyond 30% or so.

  • wangkon936

    However, I also think that the captain may not be found guilty of the many faults that people believe he made (with the benefit of hindsight).

    I think if the passengers jumped into the water the very second the ship started tilting we may be talking about hundreds of deaths via hypothermia and many people lost in a sea that had currents as strong as 8 knots.

  • bigmamat

    I have zero opinion on how they might have saved lives. I’m not inclined to think that making people stay below deck was a very good idea at all even if you were concerned about how they’ve be evacuated. It doesn’t appear that he used good judgement but then he had years of experience and I have none. I’ve said this before this disaster was a perfect shit storm of bad consequences, with plenty of blame to go around.

  • Aja Aja

    The hindsight says the captain made all the wrong decisions. The rescue boats were there in minutes, experts say they could have survived the water for at least 2 hours – plenty of time for the rescuers to fish them out. But that’s with hindsight because the captain didn’t know how far away the rescuers were. So let’s give him that benefit of the doubt. But what’s unforgivable is the fact that he didn’t order everyone out of the cabins and onto the decks, to get ready to abandon ship. Another fact, the captain made no attempts to open the lifeboats (perhaps he knew none of them worked?). He made no attempt to order the crew to help the trapped passengers. Instead he ordered his crew to evacuate, but forgot to hand out the final instructions to the 400+ passengers. The worst thing he did was abandon ship by being the first one off the ship. And lastly, he was asleep on the job when this disaster struck, as shown by the fact that he was in his underwear shorts when abandoned ship. Just look at him, how would you like to have this guy as your captain whom you depend on, to save your life?

    http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2014/04/116_156268.html

    What Korean people want from their officials in charge of institutions are professionalism, be they be the ship’s crew, the police, coast guards, safety inspectors, the media, or the politicians. But instead it has turned into amateur hours full of incompetence and cowardice.

  • Aja Aja

    Yuna, would this incident have happened if Moon Jae-In was the president? Come on, you know full well, it doesn’t matter who’s the president, this was bound to happen no matter what.

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    Don’t know about 문재인 because to me he gave me the impression that he also seems to be part of the “system”, part of the same old same old.

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    Also, it doesn’t change my view that even if my father were the president, he could escape the blame had this happened.
    Worse still, is the fact that most effort made by this government I have seen so far has been to concentrate on “covering up their tracks and defend themselves.”

  • http://www.askakorean.net/ T.K.

    Can anyone tell me that anything (the outcome) would have been
    different, if someone else or some other political party was in power?

    Here ya go: http://www.index.go.kr/potal/main/EachDtlPageDetail.do?idx_cd=1621

    It’s a graph showing the frequency of maritime accidents, by year. You can see that the number of maritime accidents, in terms of the number of ships and people involved, more than doubled between 2008 and 2009. Guess what happened during that time period?

    Answer: massive deregulation by the neoliberal LMB administration. So there’s your difference.

  • Anonymous_Joe

    Aja Aja: “But what’s really the problem here? The characteristics of the cabinet ministers, or the mindset of bureaucrats and the bureaucratic system?”

    My point was that the mindset of the bureaucrats and system were the characteristics of the cabinet ministers and those whom you would think could not have known about all the negligence and malfeasance. Their jobs were to make sure everyone below did their jobs.

    I realize that this tragedy happened on their watch and that they were only conducting business as usual, but it happened on their watch. Off with their heads.

  • Anonymous_Joe

    To which side was the ship not tilting?

  • RElgin

    Koreans deserve much better than this – especially from their government who appear to be dodge and blame masters.

  • JW

    Wow. That’s some crazy shit.

  • Sharon Smith

    A lot of Americans were saying something similar after Sandy Hook and look where that got us. Like the gun nuts who see a classroom of dead children as “the price of freedom,” Korea’s business and political elite will view this horrific tragedy as the price of doing business.

  • bigmamat

    Guns are even more about political will than almost any other issue. I’d rather not talk about American politics too much. I’m fairly disgusted with

  • A Korean

    Those stats back the contention that deregulation led to this disaster, but not how the rescue response faired so miserably. Note that, according to the stats, despite the increase in incidents, the rescue rate has maintained/improved. If anything, the rescue operation should have been better due to more practice.

    But you know how stats are. They illuminate on some, obscure/mislead on others.

  • RElgin

    Funny you mention that because I am hearing from some business partners that many government-backed projects have been cancelled or postponed due to this disaster.

    The government is literally in a panic and has shut down many unrelated events!! Unbelievable! This is still more of an unprofessional response to avoid criticism. It is almost like when KJI died and everyone is supposed to shut down and not smile in public lest they end up killed.

  • Aja Aja

    so you’re stats perfectly illustrate that before the Lee government, they were checking every week that life boats are operational, crew are drilled in safety practices and they knew the emergency plans? They didn’t pay bribes to the inspectors, and they didn’t overload the ships?

  • RElgin

    Same here. Since I moved here, more average Americans sound like I did fifteen years back. Being Cassandra is a bitter role to play.

  • http://www.askakorean.net/ T.K.

    Clearly, the answer is no. But the numbers are there: before the LMB administration, there were a whole lot less maritime accidents. LMB administration deregulated the age of the ships that may travel, and the extent to which the ship may be modified. Both were in play in this accident: the ship was old, and it was modified to a point it was unstable.

    By your question, I thought you meant probabilities. If you wanted a watertight case for alternate reality, you are better off visiting a sci-fi blog.

  • Aja Aja

    I’m not aware what projects they’re talking about, but I bet if they didn’t shut them down, the government would have been accused of being insensitive towards the dead victims. You know, it’s good that the US navy didn’t help out in the rescue. Otherwise a big chunk of the rage would have gone towards them as well. Not that it hasn’t stopped the criticisms being raised against the US for being insensitive towards the ship wreck victims.

  • Aja Aja

    I am not looking for a watertight case of alternate reality. I’m looking for reasons why there’s all of a sudden a public and media outcry that Park Geun Hye needs to apologize to the nation.

  • RElgin

    You are correct. Here is my interpretation of the political response.

  • wangkon936

    I am not being an apologist for this captain. I’m just saying that it can appear to be easy to judge his decisions from the safety of our own homes and with absolutely no nautical experience whatsoever.

    Ultimately, I think this guy should burn in hell, but I don’t think every one of his decisions were bad and/or his bad decisions didn’t have a rationale for being in consideration. The average temperature of the water in that part of Korea at that time was between 40 and 50 degrees. Hypothermia can set in as little as 30 minutes in that tempreture water. The currents were strong. In 30 minutes a person can be swept several miles away.

    You said that the captain was asleep on the job. Well, a captain cannot be awake 24/7. There is a chain of command where 1st and 2nd mates take shifts in various different hours. You can’t fault the captain for “being asleep” if his shift is over or not yet begun (you can fault him if he didn’t have a good plan of supervision in the helm while he is gone). I also don’t understand why being in his underwear means anything? Maybe he was in his underwear because he rushed immediately to the bridge after the accident?

    Listen, again, at the end of the day there’s probably enough mistakes by this guy that he will get his just deserts. However, the truth isn’t always as simple as what armchair theorists muse about in the comfort of their own homes with complete hindsight at their disposal.

  • Aja Aja

    WK,

    http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/28/world/asia/south-korea-ship-sinking/index.html?hpt=hp_inthenews

    Nobody can make any sense of why that captain’s decision was. Hindsight you say? How about the fact that out of 15 of those crew members, none of them were wearing their uniforms? Yes, they even had time to go back to their quarters and change into civilian clothes so that they can escape with the passengers. This isn’t just hindsight, they knew the ship was going to sink, and they were going to get off the ship first, no matter what, and who cares about the passengers.

  • RElgin

    This is interesting.
    Compare parts of this article with the Sewol comments:

    from “A Deadly Fungus and Questions at a Hospital“:

    C.D.C. investigators did not fault the hospital for failing to move more
    quickly to detect the outbreak, . . . there
    were problems, records and interviews showed. With one of the five
    children, a doctor allegedly agreed to biopsy an infected spot only
    after a nurse and the parents insisted . . . the hospital’s infection
    investigators did not become involved for months because their threshold
    for reviewing cases excluded some of the five deaths . . . In a city where so many institutions had failed its citizens — a former mayor convicted of bribery, a police department tainted by charges of brutality, schools where student performance was historically abysmal — Children’s Hospital was well respected . . . now, Children’s Hospital is accused of breaking faith with the community. Much of the anger has focused on what a local newspaper, The Times-Picayune, charged in an editorial was an “appalling” failure to alert the public and a “lack of urgency” that slowed the discovery of the outbreak.

    Again, a problem with bureaucracy, incompetence, and now, trust. The candour with which the hospital administrators handle this problem is a good example for Korean politicians too.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Deregulation is fine, nothing is wrong with it, per se. But deregulation needs to happen in an environment where strong tort tradition allows victims to literally destroy the offending company. That is not so in South Korea.

  • wangkon936

    I would normally agree, but my only objection is that it may nurture an overly litigious culture, which isn’t that great.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    It may not be great but it i probably better than a culture of government meddling in everything.

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    The families of the dead ask for the flower stands sent by Park and LMB to be taken outside the funeral hall.

    http://www.seoul.co.kr/news/newsView.php?id=20140429500104

    Maybe about time for 정몽준’s youngest to make another smart ass comment about the 국민정서.

  • http://www.askakorean.net/ T.K.

    Funny, because the young Chung’s comment sounded exactly like something you would say.

  • RElgin

    One of the projects was musical in nature and in the U.S. What that would have to do with this disaster is beyond connection.

  • redwhitedude

    Could you pull up stats on how much Korean government spends on these multicultural families versus Korean-Korean families? Also multicultural families have it tough with the way things are. I hear of multicultural kids getting singled out at school because they are different. Korea is a homogenous society so the culture has had a tendency to emphasize homogeneity so people who are mixed are going to have it tough.

  • Sumo294

    The Swiss are coming to Korea–at last–real compliance and oversight. They will be the new “very hard to corrupt” inspectors over key national infrastructure, which now of course will cover ferries and ferry terminals.

  • redwhitedude

    Korea needs to be more like northern european nations in safety and regulatory compliance.

  • Aja Aja

    I’ll comment instead, with this quote first

    “Admittedly Park Geun-hye is vulnerable in that she has made much of improving public safety. But can this tragedy fairly be laid at her door? Could the Sewol somehow have been saved if half a million voters had ticked a different box 16 months ago, and her liberal rival Moon Jae-in had won the presidency instead? Come on.”

    From: Aiden-Foster Carter in WSJ Korea, posted by Wangkon.

    She apologized nevertheless for whatever her failings have been, but she’s still dismissed as not apologetic enough and insincere. Apologies made by Kim Dae-Jung and Roh Moo Hyun for disasters that happened under their administrations still didn’t stop the man-made disasters like the Sealand fire and Daegu subway fire.

    Whatever the anger those surviving family members feel should be allowed to be expressed by them. But others should not use those family members to score political points.

    One thing I wanted to point out what I disagree with those family members. A president is not omnipotent. Expecting her to go down to the site of rescue and telling the people there what to do, is unrealistic and borders on personality cult. Collapsing on their knees and crying out to her to save their children, is also unfair. Because that presumes that she doesn’t want to save them. Wouldn’t anybody save them if they had that power? Really, they’re overestimating what a president can do.

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    Why would you be bringing up Kim or Roh? Doesn’t that make you equivalent as those you accuse of making it into a political thing? The reason I brought up Kim Youngsam before is that that happened to be a time in Korea when a lot of world-famous disasters did happen..

    I personally would not go on a protest against Park. But then again, I would not put a word of prayer or pray for miracle on my FB page or anything, especially after a couple of days that they are almost certain to be dead, and the only thing I would wish for is that their death was not drawn out.
    However, I would not deign to say I understood what the families must have gone through, let alone accuse them of *being unfair* to anybody alive and well.

  • redwhitedude

    But then these Koreans think the government is a solve it all. I’m not quite sure about that.

  • Aja Aja

    I’m just mentioning the truth, they are being unfair. Grief is still no excuse to possibly harm the rescue divers who continue to dive in very dangerous conditions to bring up bodies, at a time we are 100% certain that there are no survivors. The divers continue to dive because the parents demand they do until there’s a miracle. It makes me angry that their kids died when they shouldn’t have, but it also makes me angry when I read articles like this.

    http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2014/04/29/2014042901546.html

  • j95lee

    I’m no expert on Korean regulations. but I doubt the government simply allowed businesses to do set their own standard with ZERO oversight. Not properly enforcing existing safety rules isn’t the same thing as deregulation, I could be wrong.

    On paper, everyone wants a highly regulated society in which even the most unlikely risk is accounted for, But they won’t accept the necessary increase in cost or responsibility. Americans love to blame “deregulation” for the financial meltdown, but they’re lukewarm on supporting regulations that would prevent banks and credit companies from lending to unqualified customers. Airplane passengers began to chafe under TSA rules not more than 6 years after 9/11.

    Some defects and safety lapses are (even foreseeable) inevitable.. If ONLY the captain ordered everyone to abandon ship in time, most of these people probably would have survived, with or without safety equipment. I hear many passengers were locked inside their rooms when the electricity went out.

    Koreans are no strangers to cutting corners. Some establishments in places like K-town do the bare minimum on maintaining a clean facility. I don’t fault the victim’s parents for blaming the government, but 3 days before the incident some of them would have objected to random safety checks and higher cost of doing business necessary to promote safety. Everyone should be clear on which risks are manageable and which deserve proper oversight.

  • Sumo294

    I doubt you are a leftist moonbat–but I do believe you are Canadian–I apologize for your condition and believe me–I am very sympathetic as you are not responsible for your current condition. Question: Where do you get good pancake syrup in Korea? I was hoping a Canadian would know where to find some in Korea.

  • bigmamat

    Now I’m seeing reports that he was taken off in his underware and might have been in the middle of something with a Filipino singer.

  • bumfromkorea

    I actually live in the place that can reasonably be considered the exact antithesis of Canada. Climate, physiography, local politics… precise opposite.

  • bballi bballi paradise

    Go find H.Schmidt (your other alias) , go back to Korean Sentry, and stay there

  • Aja Aja

    It’s really exasperating to see the Korean public being lead to attacks on the president, instead of the public being galvanized against lack of safety awareness and corruption by Chonghaejin and the safety inspectors. The latest rumour mill populated by the media is that Park coordinated a publicity stunt by planting an old woman disguised as a family member of the dead, meeting the president while she was in Jindo last week to comfort the family members who were gathered in a gym. Korean public is more angered at these kinds of petty accusations against politicians, than turning their attentions onto the real problems that has plagued the Korean society. The danger of scapegoating one person that they want to get rid of because of her politics, is that the real problems that desperately need attention, go unfixed. They can try and succeed in impeaching her, but would that really solve the problem? Sometimes Korea does remind me of a religious cult where the public are easily lead and fooled by those who are able to shape public opinions.

  • JW

    Did you read the widely shared post that was submitted to the Blue House website for everyone to see? I think it explains well why people are angry at her. The link to the full text is here —

    ‘당신이 대통령이어선 안되는 이유’ 글 전문

    http://www.hani.co.kr/arti/society/society_general/634859.html

    I don’t think it’s wrong that people are targeting her. There were major problems with how the emergency response was handled and organized , and because of that I think that people have good cause to believe that the buck stops with the President, especially in a country where the national government has as much power as it does in a smallish country like South Korea. I mean, certainly I can agree with you that there are people out there who’s out to get her simply because of political differences, but that’s just a distraction from the real issue which is that the President and the agencies that report to her have to ensure a reasonably effective emergency response and I think most people are correct in thinking that that response failed.

  • Aja Aja

    JW, yes I did read that article and that’s exactly what I’m talking about. That editorial has so much wrong to it, I don’t even know where to begin, to be honest with you. For example, how does her welfare policies which this editorial mentions, figure into this disaster? The editor of this paper to claim that he has never criticized the president before is even more laughable. My god, that’s some serious joke there. And how about this?

    대통령은 분명 ‘구조에 최선을 다하라’ 라고 지시했다.

    그러나 왜 지휘자들은 ‘구조에 최선을 다하지’ 안았을까?

    What didn’t she do and what more could she have done, the paper doesn’t mention it, other than that she didn’t do enough. A leader or a president is as good as the experts around her. The president is not an expert at search and rescue. Why isn’t there a national office that coordinates all the emergency rescue and recovery efforts between various departments? What this tells me is that the problem is not just the president, it’s the structure. If that structure isn’t working, then there has to be changes. Even if the structures change, but the people in there are incompetent and corrupt, then it still won’t work. One person, one president didn’t make this system.

  • JW

    “Why isn’t there a national office that coordinates all the emergency rescue and recovery efforts between various departments?”

    You mean to tell me that PGH is not responsible for setting this up? Is she not responsible for setting this up and populating it and other agencies with competent people? All the previous problems with her personnel decisions only makes the argument that much stronger.

  • Aja Aja

    JW, the president alone cannot set this up, without parliamentary approval and consensus by various government offices who must accept giving up their jurisdiction to others. It needs politicians to come to an agreement, but they’re too busy with other stuff to worry about this kind of things. The president is not a king.

  • Aja Aja

    I can tell you exactly what that has to do with it, without even knowing about what that project is. It’s because if they don’t cancel that project in the US (whatever that is), there will be criticisms in the media that the government is too busy with frivolous things like this at this time, when there are people in the ship trapped, but the government not doing anything to rescue them. Now the criticism is that they’re over reacting. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

  • JW

    Sure she can’t do it by herself, but the majority blame should surely fall on her unless you have any evidence to show that she tried to create it and was thwarted by forces beyond her control. And you should certainly not underestimate how much power “the daughter of Park Chung Hee” would have as the President.

  • Aja Aja

    We both know that not many people, neither government or opposition parties in Korea cared about safety issues until this disaster struck. Nobody thought about it nor thought of it as important issues.

    So I’ll bite, how much power does daughter of Park Chung Hee really have as the president?

  • JW

    Alot. Enough to create an emergency response agency that works much better than what they have now, if she really wants to.

  • Aja Aja

    To her credit, she did come up with the plan to create a new national emergency department to oversee all agencies, after this disaster.

    http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304163604579530750831476112

    You may say it’s too late, why she didn’t do this long time ago. Well, then, there were 4 presidents since the similar 1993 ferry disaster and before Park, and none of them did what Park is proposing. Where were they?

  • Aja Aja

    JW, I believe there were efforts to create a national emergency response agency, but it was thwarted earlier this year by various agencies in the Korean government who did not want to give up their jurisdictions. But after this disaster, Park is in better position to ram this through. Anyway, I already replied to you above, there were four presidents before Park, since the 1993 ferry disaster, and none of them came up with this plan nor successful in creating one.

  • JW

    They should be blamed too then. But they are not the president any more, she is. If you’re right that she tried and was thwarted by forces beyond her control, then I would grant you the argument. But I haven’t seen anything to support that claim yet.

  • Aja Aja

    But doesn’t this show that it was a very low priority when 4 presidents did not think there were problems with the emergency response to national disasters? How many Koreans raised this issue? It’s easy to criticize in hindsight of what she should have done.

  • JW

    Yes, I agree there are structural/cultural issues to discuss here also. But Korea is not exactly a country that is relatively free of big time disasters like this and so she (along with other previous presidents) had the opportunity to realize the importance of disaster preparedness and provide leadership on that front. (They are voted in to lead, after all) But they failed to provide that leadership. And since she is the current president (along with being the leader of Saenuri for multiple years prior to that) I think it makes perfect logical sense that she is held responsible for that failure. I totally agree that other structural issues and individuals who are directly responsible ought to be held responsible also. That’s not what I’m arguing against.

  • leefr

    Right below the graph there is a note saying that the reason for the jump in 2009 numbers was because the definition of “accident” was expanded to include minor collisions, moored vessels, leisure craft and so on in order to better manage marine incidents. Maybe a better breakdown would show an increase in the kinds of accidents that were captured by pre-2009 statistics, but this graph doesn’t seem to. I’m not trying to be an apologist for anything, but this kind of misquotation doesn’t help the discussion.

  • RElgin

    As I had wondered, so it probably was (from the BBC):

    The refurbishment carried out by owners Chonghaejin Marine took place between October 2012 and February last year, shortly after the company purchased the Sewol ferry.

    They built extra passenger cabins on the third, fourth and fifth decks.

    The off-duty captain, named by prosecutors as Shin, had warned the company that this move had altered the 6,825-tonne ship’s balance and undermined its ability to stabilise itself.

    Prosecutors said these warnings were brushed aside, according to news agencies. Additionally, the ferry was carrying more than three times its recommended maximum cargo. It had left the port of Incheon with 3,606 tonnes of freight and cargo.

    This was likely a floating Sampoong Department Store.

  • redwhitedude

    Or people just have a kneejerk reaction to fault the government everytime there is a mishap.

  • Aja Aja

    So the accusation against Park that she orchestrated a publicity stunt using an old woman disguised as a family member of the dead, turned out to be yet another false rumour created out of someone’s imagination.

    At this point, it’s pretty clear the attacks on the president is a coordinated political attack, and is designed to take away the attentions on the real issues at hand, and practically tying her hands so that she can’t do anything. This reminds me of the 2008 Mad Cow zombie attacks. Let’s see if they will be successful once again to rally the candle light vigil protests of the zombies.

  • Aja Aja

    So, here we go again,

    Online posts against Park stacking up

    By Joel Lee

    Cheong Wa Dae’s official website has been swarmed with posts critical of President Park Geun-hye over the sunken ferry Sewol.

    A post entitled, “The reason you mustn’t be the president,” written by independent film director Park Sung-mi, has attracted over 520,000 views since it appeared Sunday.

    Her posting triggered a deluge of comments. Due to nearly a 75-fold increase in its average daily traffic of 7,000 hits, the website crashed temporarily.

    http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2014/05/116_156443.html

  • cockfucius

    I get that people are angry at the government, after all, they are responsible for the policies and regulations that are supposed to protect civilians.

    However, what I despise the most are people using the chaos to their political advantage, as if people will actually care for another incompetent government politician to replace another mediocre one.

    What’s not happening is a systematic overhaul and investigation to prevent this sort accident. The root cause of these type of accidents are individual greed, a system of greed, pocket stuffing at all cost is what produces tragedies in the past. Sampoon shopping mall collapse is a very good example. The management wanted to make more money and built against the advice of engineers. The disaster soon led to a nation wide audit which found 2/3 Korean buildings were in similarly dangerous shape due to corruption and greed. Such is the same case with ships.

    What needs to happen is a discussion to prevent such catastrophes from happening again. It’s unfortunate. What needs to be fixed is not the 빨리빨리 culture but the bigger underlying problem with Korean society, unregulated greed and corruption in all levels.

    There’s an old Russian saying, ‘The fish rots from the heads down’.

  • cockfucius

    It literally is Sampoon department store in the sea. What is the root cause of such action? Individual greed. The ‘내 새끼들만 잘 먹고 잘 살면돼’, post-Korean war, thug mentality that endangers everyone, and frankly Korean culture makes it all too easy to question anyone higher up in rank.

    To prevent such disaster happening again, Koreans really need to have an open debate as to what enables such people to behave greedily while endangering other people’s lives and still be accepted and demanding of respect. IF that’s part of the culture, it needs to be stamped out.

  • cockfucius

    There’s lies and statistics.

    There’s a lot of questionable properties of that graph.

    Are more accidents being reported despite in the past having been overlooked?

    Correlation doesn’t mean causation.

    This accident is just like Sampoon department store, it’s deep rooted in Korean society, personal greed and a society which supports those in power.

    Blame all the presidents you want but it won’t solve or prevent such tragedies from taking place.

    Recently, building collapsed in Korea while students were visting a resort. You gonna blame a building that was built in the 90s to LMB and point to some random graph, of all sites, a government site? You think they are that dumb like you?

  • cockfucius

    he literally was caught with his pants down

    afraid that students will freeze in water yet walks out in underwear waiting to be rescued. logic of pre-Korean war generation.

  • cockfucius

    it’s like a culture is incapable of protecting themselves against dangers so they need to rely on another culture to do it for them, to keep them safe. Hell. we depend on Americans, now let’s get the Swiss to run the country because we can’t trust our own.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Or people don’t look deep enough when saying something like this. If government is tasked with guaranteeing our safety, and shirks its duties, the little people still believe things are safe when they aren’t and blindly have faith when they should be more vigilant. This wasn’t an “accident” but a logical conclusion to greed run amock, and incredible corruption that went on for YEARS! And people trusted in the safety of it! This had to happen, it was inevitable. If not now then a year later when 100 more people could be added to the boat and 3 more tons of cargo, all under the watchful eye of the government agency bureaucRATS who knew and let things slide.