Sunday, April 26, 2015

South Koreans demand the truth about the Sewol disaster and Yoo Byung Eun's corrupt business/government connections


Last year a ship which the government had never bothered inspecting for its safety sank off the coast of South Korea and over 300 Korean students drowned to death.

The owner of the ship was named Yoo Byung Eun. It turns out he seemed to be a totally corrupt (dishonest) businessman who also ran his own private religion. Basically we call this type of guy a religious 'cult' leader - someone who makes money from a fake religion. He also claimed to be a world-class photographer and artist - but it was revealed after his death that he had been giving money to many powerful people in the art world and institutions. After he had donated over $1 million dollars to the Louvre Museum in Paris, he was given a major art gallery show there.

The ship carrying the 300 students was owned by Yoo and was in terrible shape - there had been illegal construction on the ship so that extra passengers could be carried. This seems to be one of the reasons so many Korean children died. It was also revealed that Yoo had many connections in the Korean government as well as the business and entertainment industry and that he may have been involved in many corrupt (dishonest) business dealings with lots of Korean and foreign companies.

After the Sewol sank, Yoo disappeared. After many weeks the Korean government claimed it had found his dead body, although they also said the body was badly decomposed (falling apart because it had been dead for so long). Because the current South Korean government does not seem to be completely honest, there are many Koreans who feel that Yoo may still be alive and that he did not commit suicide as the government claimed.

Furthermore, the government focused its attention on prosecuting (bringing to justice) members of the ships crew.  The government blamed them almost completely for the disaster.  So many Koreans feel that the crew is being used as 'scapegoats' - they are being blamed for something other people were responsible for.  It's true that Yoo's son was arrested and put on trial, but he only received a sentence of two years in jail. So 300 Korean children died, they died because the government inspectors were being bribed not to do their jobs (apparently), and nobody really responsible for the tragedy has been punished.

An article about this situation:

http://www.dw.de/south-korean-protesters-demand-independent-ferry-probe/a-18408500

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

protesters - a group of people who publicly show their disapproval over something that has happened; also called: demonstrators

to demand (something) - not to ask for something but to indicate that something specific must be done

a probe - an investigation

to take to the streets - to go into public areas in order to protest and show disapproval

an inquiry - an investigation

to salvage - to save, in this case to bring the boat up from under the water

ill-fated - unlucky

a rally - a gathering of people for some type of issue or purpose

a surge - a sudden increase

a ferry - a ship used to transport people from one shore to another

to capsize - to turn upside down

lax safety standards - not strict, lax standards are easy standards

the plight - the problems, the troubles

camped - they have been living there since their children were killed due to a corrupt government and business sector in Korea

to disperse - to force people to leave

a vigil - when a group of people gather publicly and peacefully in silence for some issue or purpose

clashed - a clash is when two groups violently meet each other; this was not a clash, however, as the police attacked the protesters

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