May 02, 2014 by Alex Cho
In my last article, I warned about how the misjudgment of authority can lead to a disastrous result. After seeing concerning news of the South Korean Prime Minister resigning over the slow initial reaction to a ferry boat sinking, I must criticize how the blame is being directed at the wrong authority.
Prime Minister Chung Hong-won appeared on the national television and “apologized” regarding the incident, and then he resigned from his office. Behind the resignation, it is easy to see that the angry families’ target for the blame is aimed at the government. Yet the victims’ families are not satisfied, so they even urge the president to step down.
Honestly, I do not understand one bit why the prime minister even had to resign. First of all, the Sewol Ferry was not owned by the government. The captain, who is responsible for the incident, is an employee of a private company. The ferry was not guided by the government during the sail. Why does the government have to apologize?
Primarily, government is accused of not doing enough to rescue people. Therefore, the government is responsible for the tragically dead passengers. It is simply not true. Immediately after hearing of the dire situation of the ferry, the government deployed the Underwater Demolition Team/Sea, Air, Land Team, the best the government can offer. The UDT/SEAL is one of the most trained and disciplined special-operations military personnel, who are specialized in carrying out missions in very dangerous places. Despite the huge limitations on visibility and devastating current, they put their lives on the line to tirelessly rescue potential survivors.
Despite the amount of time that has passed since the incident, the rescue operation is still going on because the government respects the hope of victims’ families that there might be survivors. Realistically, there is a very slim chance that anybody would still be alive inside the ferry. Yet the government and rescue team haven’t given up. The divers rarely get sleep or decent food because they are always on a boat or underwater for rescue. The only regret is that the call from the ferry was made too late, so the rescue teams could not have arrived earlier.
Moreover, President Park Geun-hye immediately came down to comfort and assure that the rescue operation will go on as long as there is the slightest possibility of survival. The South Korean cabinet members also came down to help the victims’ families. In response, the prime minister was hit by a water bottle, and the president was reviled by the victims’ families. Does the government truly deserve more blame than the captain?
I would say, what the government deserves is gratitude and cooperation, not relentless accusations. I understand that if one loses one’s family, he or she will be devastated with sorrow and anger. However, that does not mean that one can simply swing the stick in any direction. The reasonable target for the blame is the captain. During the tragic terrorist attacks of 9/11, the whole nation was united to condemn al-Qaida instead of demanding the president or the secretary of state to step down.
The government is not a god. Sometimes, the government can only do what is best and hope for the best result. Yet it is common that people expect too much from the government. Consequently, if the government fails to meet the expectation, it is often criticized. However, the government, which provides its best effort, should not be targeted for blame. Rather, the people should stand united to overcome this difficult time.
Alex Cho is a sophomore political science major at Drexel University. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.