Friday, April 18, 2014

Ship Captains

Remember that saying, "The captain always goes down with his ship"? He (or she) is entrusted with the welfare of everyone on board his vessel and is expected to use his ultimate efforts to save the lives of his crew and passengers. Yet as we saw with the Costa Concordia in 2012, ship captains sometimes choose personal survival instead.

Given the importance of honor in Asian cultures, I suspect that this South Korean ferry captain is going to spend the rest of his life wishing he had gone down with his ship. He allowed himself to be rescued before hundreds of his passengers, most of whom were just school-age students, and those left behind most likely are all dead. I can't imagine the shame of living with having saved my own skin while doing nothing to save hundreds of young people for whom I was responsible. A Korean school vice-principal, who was among those rescued, has already taken his own life.  In light of the current suicide rate in South Korea, I wouldn't be surprised if Captain Lee eventually goes that route, too. The Korean ferry sinking was a tragedy for everyone involved.

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