Severing dirty connections

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Severing dirty connections

As the investigations of the Sewol ferry tragedy continue, corruption and malpractice rampant in the shipping industry stemming from filthy bureaucratic connections are being laid bare on a daily basis. A high-ranking official of the Korea Coast Guard who led an initial investigation into the calamity turned out to be a member of a maverick faction of the Baptist Church led by Yoo Byung-eon, the de facto head of Chonghaejin Marine Company, which operated the ferry.

The joint prosecution-police investigation confirmed that the ferry had been loaded with cargo three times heavier than its maximum capacity. A first mate of the ship told investigators that the shipping company drained the ship’s ballast water, which sailors call “lifesaving water,” to carry more freight. The authorities have already arrested a director of the shipping company who gave the order to drain the ballast water. More surprisingly, CCTV footage showed that unregistered heavy equipment, including three excavators, were also loaded onto the ship.

A noticeable reduction in sea lane cargo traffic from Incheon to Jeju after the April 16 Sewol tragedy explicitly demonstrates how overloaded routinely sail the routes off the coast of the country. Responsibility must first be borne by the Korea Shipping Association, which is in charge of checking the safety of passenger and cargo ships, and the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, which has to monitor and oversee the association. We take special note of the fact that officials who retired from the ministry have been serving as chairmen of the board of the association for a whopping 38 years.

A special investigation team at the Incheon District Prosecutors’ Office has arrested an executive of the KSA on charges of receiving bribes from a number of shipping companies. The Korean Register of Shipping, a nonprofit organization with the mission of scrutinizing the safety of commercial ships, is also under investigation by a special team at the Busan District Prosecutors’ Office for having offered bribes to the ministry’s officials. The Korea Shipowners’ Association, a lobbying group, turned out to have provided financial support for a study group of lawmakers last year. The focus of the investigation is being narrowed to the sticky connections between former officials of the ministry and the maritime industry.

President Park Geun-hye vowed to eradicate dirty connections between officialdom and industry. The prosecution must put an end to the shameful practice once and for all.

JoongAng Ilbo, May 2, Page 30

Correction and rebuttal statement by the Evangelical Baptist Church

The Korea JoongAng Daily, regarding the reports since April 16, 2014, about the Evangelical Baptist Church (EBC) and Yoo Byung-eun, is publishing the following corrections and an excerpt from the rebuttal statement by the EBC.


Through three past investigations by the prosecution, it has been revealed that Yoo and the EBC, also known as the “Salvation Group” and Guwonpa in Korean, are not related to the Odaeyang mass suicide incident. That was also confirmed by the prosecution in its official statement on May 21. The prosecution’s investigation also found that Yoo had not made an attempt to smuggle himself out of the country or seek political asylum in France. We, therefore, correct the concerned reports.

Yoo retired from his executive management position in 1997. He did not own any shares in the noted companies, nor had he managed operations or used the operating funds for personal reasons. There are no grounds to call him the actual owner and chairman of the company. As such, he did not provide any directives in regards to the overloading of the Sewol ferry or its renovation.

It was verified that the captain and crew members who abandoned ship at the time of the Sewol ferry accident are not members of the EBC. It has also been verified that the EBC does not own any shares of Chonghaejin Marine Company and did not engage in its management.

Rebuttal statement

The EBC’s position is that the museums in the United States and Europe can never authorize an exhibition unless the artistic value of an artist’s works is recognized by the screening committee, irrespective of the amount of money an artist donates. The EBC’s position is that the exhibitions were not a result of Mr. Yoo’s patronage or donation, and Yoo also has not coerced Chonghaejin and its affiliates to purchase his photos.

The EBC states that Yoo did not participate in the foundation of the EBC in 1981, and the church does not offer him the title “pastor.” It also says a significant part of the 240 billion won ($206 million) worth of assets suspected of belonging to the Yoo family are real estate properties owned by the farming associations, which had been established by church members.

The EBC states that there are certain churches in Korea that call the EBC a cult, solely based on differences between their’s and the EBC’s doctrines.

But the EBC does not worship a particular individual as a religious sect leader or preach any doctrine that contradicts the Bible.
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