Everyone in the Republic of Korea wept collectively when a ferry carrying 475 passengers sank on Wednesday. The ferry had made a sharp turn and ended up capsizing and, eventually, sinking. As of the latest news report, 28 people are confirmed dead and 270 are missing. Most of those missing are high school students from Danwon High School in Ansan (just outside of Seoul).
This routine ferry trip carries thousands of schoolchildren on field trips each year from Incheon port to Jeju Island in the south. When it was realized that the ship was in trouble, everyone was ordered to go and stay in their rooms. Koreans are taught from a young age to obey orders, no questions asked, and so many people obediently waited in their rooms, even as they were slowly drowning.
The tragedy of it all was exacerbated when it was reported that the captain was among the first to be rescued from the ship, even while it was still above water. There is currently an arrest warrant out for him.
The Vice Principal of Danwon High School, who was accompanying the students on their field trip, was rescued from the ship early on as well. As the situation turned from disaster to tragedy, he commited suicide and was found hanging from a tree.
Korea, as a nation, is in shock. Their knee-jerk reaction to this event was to cancel all field trips throughout the country for the foreseeable future.
Since the purpose of EV is to host school field trips, all of our programs from here on out have been cancelled. This means that Glenn and I will spend our last days at EV not teaching. Normally, we would welcome the break (especially considering how overworked we have been recently), but due to the gloomy shadow that has been cast over the entire country, the overall mood is somber and tense. My Korean co-workers are visibly affected by this tragedy. I think it will be difficult to enjoy our time off from teaching.