Statement on the Sewol Ferry Disaster
On July 14, 2014, the Most Rev. Matthias Ri Iong-hoon, President of the CBCK Committee for Justice & Peace, issued a statement on the Sewol ferry disaster.
In his statement, Bishop Ri said, “we are still at a loss, as no one has come out to bear appropriate responsibility even though it has already passed about 100 days since the Sewol ferry disaster.” He also said that the Sewol ferry disaster urged us to make sincere reflection and deliberation, as it has revealed the shameful reality of Korea.
Bishop Ri then said, “the disaster has made us realize the fact that the intangible values which we have neglected or looked away from, including the dignity of human beings and the spirit of community, are the true basis of a secure nation as well as that of the peaceful daily life of every individual.” He then asserted that this disaster was a kind of early warning to the severely wounded Korean society, as the multitude are making a meaningless voyage without orientation in the sea of capitalistic frenzy. “However”, he affirmed, “our reflection should not be an excuse for neglecting the necessary ex post facto measures including the fact-finding investigation and the punishment of the culprits.” He continued, “it is not the citizens, but the government that must first reflect on itself and take a pledge to make a thorough renewal.”
Nevertheless, Bishop Ri was very disappointed at the government that tried to patch the matter up as it never swept away the deep-rooted evils of our society, including old conventionalism and bureaucratism. He then asserted that the government must change its basic administrative orientation to rehabilitate the spirit of community as well as to regain the trust of the citizens, instead of insisting on an abstract and radical slogan, “Remodeling of Our Nation.” In this regard, he urges the government to enact the legislation, “Special Law on the Inquiry into the Truth of the Sewol Ferry Disaster and the Construction of Safe Society,” because the proper investigation of the Sewol ferry disaster is the most basic step towards the healing of our society.
In conclusion, Bishop Ri said that we must do our best to bring about a better future, lest the victims of the Sewol ferry disaster have sacrificed themselves in vain. He concluded his statement with a prayer for the heavenly rest of the victims and healing and peace of the bereaved families and those who remain.