Sewol law cannot be an exception

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Sewol law cannot be an exception


Kim Jin-kook

Until a few years ago, a fender bender would have been a nightmare for a female driver, many of whom were often aggressively intimidated by the offenders. It is, however, rare to see such a case today, because raising your voice won’t necessarily help you now that most cars are equipped with black boxes. In a society where yellers win, a quiet, kind person suffers a loss. A normal society is where things are handled reasonably without screaming.

Yellers are not always at fault. In a society where you suffer a loss for being quiet, yelling becomes a self-help plan. People won’t likely rant and rave if society caters to their needs and cares for them.

In such a society, violent, drastic arguments and unreasonable behavior will naturally become intolerable. The weak are benefited in this system.

Surviving families of the victims of the deadly Sewol ferry sinking deserve to say anything they want. They are parents who lost their children. We cannot ask them to think about other people. If they remain quiet, no one will care for them.

The people who try to share their grief and comfort them have warm hearts. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that the deeds of these kind people will always end up in the right direction, because there are some people who take advantage of the situation, feed wrong information to stir up controversy and fuel the families’ anger.

The government and politicians are idiotic and irresponsible for being shaken by such people. There may be various demands from society, but it is there to listen and make pragmatic arrangements. When they are agitated and shaken, the country will fall into chaos.

Lawmakers of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy staged protests at Gwanghwamun Plaza with signboards that read, “Accept the demands of the Sewol ferry victims’ families.”

They already betrayed agreements twice, boycotted the National Assembly and went out to the streets. Now they are making an ambiguous demand.

“Accept the demands of the Sewol ferry victims’ families” is their argument. There is no reason or justification. They participated in a hunger strike because of these families, and now they are wrapping it up based on the families’ order.

The rich who did not open up their storerooms during famine were criticized throughout Korea’s history. But the government’s finances and private wealth are different. Tax money cannot be used as if it is our own. It will be a debt to the public and it will be a misappropriation. There are many sad stories around the country, but resources are limited. Although it may not be enough, it is the job of the politicians to ensure that limited resources be distributed well so that no one feels unfairly treated.

The southern region of the country is suffering damages from a recent downpour. Because there was no warning about the natural disaster, no danger zones were created and no information was provided, critics pointed out that it was a man-made disaster. The government is seriously responsible for the disaster.

In Changwon, a bus was swept away in a flood and seven people were killed. It was reported that the bus driver decided to operate despite the weather and took a detour from the original route. When water filled up the bus, the passengers were not quickly evacuated. The relatives of the Sewol victims demanded that a committee should be created to investigate the accident. Will we, then, need to create another special law for this accident?

The accident should be investigated and compensation must be given based on the outcome. If it were a normal procedure, the government should conduct a probe and the victims or their families must file lawsuits based on the result. Compensation will be given through trials and those responsible should be punished.

If the damages are serious or the government investigation seems not enough, the National Assembly can conduct another probe and issue a report. In the case of the Sewol ferry, we can understand that the matter is being handled politically. But when there are too many exceptions, fairness will be ruined.

The surviving families of the Sewol ferry accident said they want to shed light on the truth. They said the government’s powerful people are linked to the accident and they cannot trust the investigations by the prosecution and the police. Therefore, they demanded that they want the right to investigate and prosecute, and they want an independent counsel be appointed.

Even in a murder case, the victim’s side will never be given the power to investigate because the probe outcome must be trusted not only by the victim but also by the public, and the offender should not face an unfair situation.

The center of the current controversy is the idea that the president was linked to the case. But we already have enough information to see the overall picture based on what has been confirmed so far. The government already admitted that it failed to timely grasp the accurate account of the accident.

Around 1:30 p.m. on the day of the Sewol’s sinking, the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters announced that 368 people were rescued while two died. Only around 4 p.m., it corrected that 164 were rescued. It was one hour before President Park Geun-hye visited the office. The government realized the magnitude of the deadly disaster only after it was too late to properly carry out rescue missions.

And yet, why do they suspect that someone needs to hide something for some reason? The opposition party already struck agreements twice because there must be nothing more to suspect.

If suspicions still linger, the only way to end the controversy is to appoint an independent counsel, sanctioned by the surviving families, to investigate the accident. It is up to the government and the ruling party to accept it. That is the turf of politics.

There are many ways to resolve the situation without changing the system. Politicians should just end the number games and negotiate based on specific persons. They should be able to exercise political power if they agree that it is urgent to approve bills directly linked to people’s livelihood and review bills related to the budget. There is no reason to delay this anymore.

JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 29, Page 35

*The author is a senior columnist of the JoongAng Ilbo.

BY Kim Jin-kook

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