Captain of Korean Ferry Is Arrested and Apologizes

The captain and two crew members of the South Korean Ferry that capsized with hundreds of people on board were arrested. As of today, about 75 people were rescued, 29 bodies were recovered, and 236 are still missing, mostly high schools students taking a trip.

In this video, the captain and a crew member apologize. Additional questions by the press are below. 

Q: Was there any place to turn? You evacuated the crew but why not to passengers?

Capt: I gave the evacuation order.

Q: Did you?

Capt: Yes, I gave the evacuation order to passengers too.

Q: Why did the announcement ask the passengers to stay in their cabin?

Capt: At that time, none of the rescue ships had arrived at the scene.

Q: Nothing there?

Capt: Yes, at that time.

Q: But you evacuated first?

Capt: No.

Q: Do you accept the charges of the prosecutor's office?

Capt: Yes, I understand there are some parts that are my fault. Anyway, I am sorry I caused the trouble. I apologise to all Koreans and especially I bow my head in apology to the family of the victims.

There are some parts I do not understand. There is no such (mumbles).

Q: Did you give evacuation orders?

Capt: Yes, I did.

Q: But there were many announcements asking passengers to stay in the cabin. Why?

Capt: That's before the rescue boats arrived.

Q: At that time, is it true the ship was tilting seriously?

Capt: The boat was in an area of very strong current, the temperature of the ocean water was cold and I thought if people left the ferry without proper judgement, if they not were wearing a life jacket, and even if they were, they would drift away and face many other difficulties. The rescue boats had not arrived yet, nor were there any civilian fishing ships or other boats around at that time.

Q: When did you notify the coastguard? When was the first sign of a problem?

Capt: I remember it was probably around 9.50am.

Q: 9.50am? Wasn't it 8.50?

Capt: Yes, 8.50.

Q: Did you feel anything strange before that?

Capt: No.

Q: Was there any place you can turn?

Capt: It is not that there was no place to turn the boat. I asked the crew to stay on the route. I briefly went to my bedroom and I was on my way back when it happened.

Q: You went to your bedroom?

Capt: Yes.

Q: There were rumours that you were drunk?

Capt: No.

Q: Are you sure?

Capt: Yes.

A transcript between the ship and a nearby island portrays "confusion and panic," according to an NPR report.

To add more tragedy to this situation, the students' deputy headmaster committed suicide. Reports show he did "everything by the book" but apparently was overcome with grief. He left a note that said, "Surviving alone is too painful while 200 remain unaccounted for. I take full responsibility. I pushed ahead with the school trip," and "I will once again become a teacher in the afterlife for my students whose bodies have not been discovered."

Discussion Starters:

  • The captain and crew are criticized for leaving the boat and for telling people to remain in the ship rather than evacuate. What could explain their actions?
  • From watching the video, what cultural differences can you identify? In other words, how might this situation differ if it happened in the United States?