North Hits Out at Sewol Ferry Sinking

North Korea has criticized the effectiveness of the official South Korean response
to the sinking of the “Sewol,” the passenger ferry that went down last week off the southwest coast of the Korean Peninsula en route from Incheon to Jeju Island with the loss of approximately 300 lives.

Chosun Central Television reported on the 19th
that “rescue efforts are so slow that the hearts of the [ferry victims’] families are breaking.”

Quoting South Korean broadcaster MBC, the report further claimed, “South Chosun’s MBC news said that these kinds of large-scale
disasters have been going on for decades, and that the families
of those missing have been having sleepless nights. The authorities must recognize
the depths of their sadness and rage.”

Propaganda outlet Uriminzokkiri similarly reported that many in South Korea are unhappy with the “incompetent
response of the South Chosun authorities” to the ferry sinking, telling of “strong
criticism from every corner of South Chosun society that the government is not
making any progress in rescuing [the victims].”

“All classes in South Chosun claim the responsibility
for this incident lies fully on the incompetence of the current government. They
are calling for the urgent passage of laws
on ocean safety, including disaster information gathering, prompt response
measures, strong command and strengthened supervisory systems…people are saying
if [the government]listened then accidents like this wouldn’t happen,” the piece concluded.

Rodong Sinmun published a similarly critical piece on page 5 of its Saturday edition, declaring, “We live in a world where we cannot even send our children on a mathematics field trip.” 

North Korea’s criticism is a broadly accurate reflection of widespread anger and deep sadness felt in South Korean society at the nature of the tragedy and speed of the rescue effort that followed it.

Kang Mi Jin is a North Korean defector turned journalist who fled North Korea in 2009. She has a degree in economics and writes largely on marketization and economy-related issues for Daily NK. Questions about her articles can be directed to