In their quest for bigger and bigger profits, the South Koreans are willing to go over corpses. South Korea has a good history of needless deaths because of classic capitalist greed. The military ruled the south until 1987 when limited democratic freedoms were introduced. Still it would take another 10 years before the authoritarian South Korean state became less intolerant. Since 1948, South Korea is ruled by powerful capitalist families who have close contacts with the conservative government. In fact the South Korean government is more or less a puppet of these powerful capitalist enterprises. Regulations are in place to protect people, but in reality they are often ignored. Capitalist greed has caused many deaths in South Korea, the sinking of the MV Sewol in April 2014 is one of them!
The ferry MV Sewol was build in Japan in 1994. In 2012, the Cheonghaejin Marine Company bought the ship and choose to modify it. Because of these modifications the ship could carry 3,606 tons of freight, cars and passengers, although it was build to carry only 1,200 tons. On 16 April 2014, the overweight ferry was carrying more then 470 passengers out of which 300 were teenagers on a school trip. The ship was traveling to one of South Korea’s southern islands when the disaster happened. A combination of cargo overloading, illegal redesigning of the ship to increase its cargo load and the steersman’s poor helmsman ship led to capsizing. The MV Sewol turned over and sank, trapping more then 300 people inside. During the capsizing the captain told the school children to stay in their cabins. This caused the high number of deaths, as the teens obeyed the captain. This is typical for Asian nations, were children are raised to obey those in command!
Captain of the ship was 69 year old; Lee Joon-Seok. He was in his own cabin when the ship started to capsize. Lee Joon-Seok also did not wear his uniform nor his pants when he was rescued by a marine patrol boat. As the captain left his ship, most teenagers were still in their cabins. Waiting for rescue that never came. 30 minutes after the MV Sewol started to capsize, it listed 50 degrees to port. Anybody still inside was trapped as the ferry rolled on its back. Only 176 passengers were able to escape by disobeying the order of the captain. These people jumped into the cold water and were rescued by marine boats and helicopters. Many who came to help were forced to watch in horror as the ferry slowly sank with 300 people still on board!
South Korea was shocked by the lose of so many young teenagers. One school teacher who survived the sinking, hanged himself in the school gym. He could not live with the guilt that he was saved while 300 of his pupils drowned. Recovered mobile phones showed them laughing and joking in their cabins as the ship started to list. They were wondering when they were allowed to leave their rooms. Some teens became scared, but nobody took the initiative to go on deck with their lifebelts. In one video from a mobile phone, you could hear the the famous Titanic song; ”My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion, while the teens waited for their death!
Crew member Cho Jun-Ki was the person who made the fatal turn to starboard which caused the capsizing. This crew man was working on the MV Sewol for only six months and did not have the required skill and experience to steer the ferry. Still the captain allowed him to steer and was not even on the bridge at the time of the fatal turn to starboard. The sharp turn made the cargo to role, causing a shift in balance. After the cargo and cars all rolled to one side, the ship was doomed. Water entered through portholes and caused a heavy list!
The owners of the Cheonghaejin Marine Company were blamed, but not the capitalist system. Nobody in South Korea dares to attack the reasons for the illegal redesigning of the ship to increase its cargo load. These reasons are clear; classic capitalist greed. The owners wanted more profits from the MV Sewol, they put aside safety and human lives to make big money. Also weak government oversight led to a neglect of safety regulations, it allowed the MV Sewol to be modified to carry three times its cargo capacity. 300 young Koreans drowned to death in April 2014, because regulations were ignored, classic capitalist greed and the Asian command culture. This obey culture is part of the conservative culture that is very strong in South Korea, but also in North Korea. Obedience is a central theme among these conservative societies and children are excepted to obey those in command!
Revolutionary socialists in Korea try to fight against this corrupt and greedy system. But we are ignored and marginalized by the capitalist media and the political establishment. Our opposition to the Republic of Korea, means the conservative government is even allowed to use a dictatorial law called the National Security Law, to arrest and jail anybody who is opposing the bourgeois nature of the ROK. Many leftists have been arrested, jailed and tortured since 1948. South Korea is not a fair and balanced nation, it is not a free society as the capitalist media claims. Sure you have more political freedoms in the south compared to the north. But South Korea is a hell for those who cannot meet the demands of the capitalist system, more then 20% of all South Koreans live on government support.
The OECD listed several factors among the reasons for poverty in South Korea. First, public social spending in South Korea is low. Social spending by the government in South Korea was 7.6% of GDP in 2007, compared to the OECD average of 19%. This can be explained by the Korean traditional reliance on family and the private sector to provide such services. Second, Korea’s dualistic labour market, in which a significant number of workers are hired only on temporary contacts with low wages and benefits, results in high inequality in wage income. This the true face of capitalist Korea, which is no alternative to Stalinist North Korea!