- Posted April 20, 2014 by
help help help
It has been a week of frustration, confusion, and grief. As of today, it has been four days since the Sewol ferry had sunk, trapping hundreds underneath. As a Korean, this accident will be remembered as one of the worst maritime accidents in the Korean history, not due to the number of casualties? which largely consisted of high school students? but because of the lack of transparency shown by the Korean government in its aftermath. I belong to one of Korea’s biggest internet communities and I wish to shed some light on the current situation in Korea. I represent, in this email, the majority’s view of the current crisis and hope that it gets publicized in whatever channel possible. Initially, President Park ensured the families of the victims that the government will make every possible effort in locating and rescuing the survivors. Her visit to the scene was highly publicized and was broadcasted in every mainstream media. However, contrary to what they had been promised, the families realized that little was being done. Despite the blaring headlines on the governmental search operations, the families found the site often deserted. With time, families’ distrust of the government became more intense. Inaccurate reports often worsened the situation. Initially, it was reported that all passengers had been rescued. Afterwards, those reports were retracted and substituted with continuous inaccuracy, with the articles reporting ever-changing numbers of the total passengers on board, those rescued, and those still missing. There were several errors in the way in which the rescue operations were carried out. To start with, an absence of a central disaster relief center led to dissemination of inaccurate information and lack of communication between various governmental ministries. With building frustration, the families have tried to contact higher government officials, a vain attempt which saw no tangible result. The ignored demands from the families were simple and reasonable. They called for a consolidated command center and a manual of the rescue operation. With every passing day, frustration grew heavier. With lack of a government response, the families ultimately decided to take a bus to Seoul, in an attempt to directly communicate with the president. However, hundreds of police officers soon arrived, obstructing the families from taking the bus. No reasonable explanation was given for their actions. The families are now walking to the Blue House, which is located in Seoul and is over 6 hours away. Government officials, who were nowhere to be seen when the families called for them, immediately appeared after the families decided to head towards the Blue House. After an encounter with the frustrated families, the prime minister, Jeung Hong-won disappeared and in a strange sequence of events, someone shouted that a survivor had been found. The parents then scattered, hoping that this survivor would be their child. This, however, turned out to be an inaccurate report. In this desperate situation, the Korean government’s control over the national media has obstructed means for the public to realize such absurdity. The only accessible means of obtaining information are the few unofficial internet broadcasting channels, which are operated by civilians. Therefore, only those who make an active effort to follow the news are aware of the current situation, leaving the country at large in the dark. The oppression is real. The government has repeatedly denied the families’ request for an organization of a consolidated rescue operation and has a firm control over the mainstream media. We live in a democratic country with no democracy.