Tragedy brings Korea to a standstill

Source: Korea Herald

Government offices remained closed on Friday except to conduct search operations and support the Sewol victims and their families.

Private companies have also temporary held off or scaled down both internal and external events as the country mourns the latest tragedy, which has brought Korea to a standstill.

As the death toll ― mostly teenagers ― from the devastating accident continues to increase, the public outcry and criticism of the government’s lack of regulatory oversight and poor crisis management is also on the rise.

The public’s hostility and blame has not only spread to government agencies such as the Ministry of Security and Public Administration and the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, but also to the alleged culprits of the accident ― the owner of ferry company Chonghaejin Marine Co., the Yoo family.

The two ministries are key government agencies with the former in charge of national security and the latter of marine regulatory policy. The Security Ministry, as critics noted, seemed unprepared for the crisis. On the other hand, the functions and operations of the Oceans Ministry, its affiliated enterprises and regulatory units have been compared to the mafia.

Oceans and Fisheries Minister Lee Ju-young (left) and Coast Guard chief Kim Seok-kyun (second from left) meet with family members of the sunken ferry Sewol’s missing passengers at a port on Jindo Island, South Jeolla Province, Thursday. (Yonhap)

Investigations into the matter have now expanded to the Yoo family and their Christian cult, Salvation Sect, seeking to find if their religious activities had anything to do with the deaths of hundreds of ferry passengers.


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