Friday, April 25, 2014


I haven't written about the Korean ferry to Jeju Island capsizing almost two weeks ago now with all those high school students aboard, mainly because I, like so many others, was initially hoping that more could be rescued, that the list of the missing would not be entirely identical to the list of the dead.  I kept thinking about the capsized ships Granddaddy saw when he came back into Pearl Harbor just two days after the 1941 attack--some people were alive for weeks in the hulks, though at the time they didn't have the technology to get them out. But there is no possibility of more survivors now that the wreck is on the seafloor.  It's just an awful situation--in scope comparable to US losses on September 11, though in this case human negligence was most likely to blame, rather than deliberate evil.

Those poor parents and families.  Especially in a case like this, where people's mistakes and poor decisions were responsible for so many deaths, there is a tendency (as in every human culture) to want to assign blame, but South Korea is also a culture both where collective anger can be expressed with unfiltered viciousness and where to the average individual being shamed is tantamount to social death (factors which contribute to the country having the highest suicide rate in the developed world)--which has already led to the school's vice-principal hanging himself.  I dearly hope that more do not allow themselves to be similarly crushed under loads of guilt and sorrow.

Our pastor chose a rather unusual topic for his Easter sermon--about Jesus' physically bearing our griefs and sorrows (not a light, upbeat subject, but somehow more comforting to me), an assurance that our human suffering is not meaningless.  I hope that South Korean Christians are able to express comfort to their fellows who have lost loved ones--encouraging them to go in pursuit of justice while serving as a sort of bulwark against the indiscriminate casting of blame--giving them access to Hope that does not disappoint.

1 comment:

Barbara said...

Such a sad situation. Maybe I'm more "aware" of the situation because of my new interest in Korea, but either way it's really sad. When I heard details of the incident, it reminded me (somewhat) of the Titanic: telling the passengers to not move, the delay in the problem being officially made known... Although those things don't address the wreck itself, it makes you wonder about the number of lives lost and whether that number could have been diminished. Again, so sad.

I did not realize the extent of "shame" that Koreans deal with. I, too, am praying for God to draw Koreans to Himself despite the tragedy.