Sewol Tragedy: Translated “Word of Apology” from the Operating Company + Investigations

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The above image and message were posted on the homepage of the Sewol operating company ChongHaeJin Shipping. The entire website is “dead” (no links) except for this message.

사죄의 말씀
(Word of Apology)

이번 세월호 좌초 사고로 고귀한 생명을 잃은 고인의 명복을 빌며 유가족 분들에게 엎드려 사죄드깁니다.
We send our deepest apologies and condolences to the families of the survivors and the deceased who lost their precious lives in this terrible grounding accident of the Sewol.

소중한 분들을 잃게되어 비통함에 빠진 모든 분들께 깊은 사죄의 말씀을 올립니다.
To those who have lost loved ones and to everyone in grief, we offer our deepest apology.

또한 이번 사고로 크고 작은 부상을 입은 분들과 그 가족 분들께도
Also, to the families of those with injuries, large and small,

애통한 심정으로 사죄 드리며, 하루빨리 회복하시고 쾌유하시도록 기원합니다.
we send our apologies from our mournful hearts, and wish you as speedy a recovery and restoration as possible.

조속한 실종자 구조에 온 힘을 기울일 것이며,
And for those yet missing in the powerfully tilted structure,

단 한분이라도 생존자가 계시기를 온 마음을 다하여 기원하고 있습니다.
we pray with all our hearts that even one survivor will be found.

다시한번 유가족 여러분들께 사죄와 위로의 말씀을 전하며 삼가 고인의 명복을 빕니다.
Once again, to the bereaved families, we send our apology and comfort and pray for your souls to find rest.


Cancellation of Operating License

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According to this article (and numerous TV news reports), the government has canceled the operating license for the company (ChongHaeJin Shipping) that ran the Sewol ship preceding the accident. As you can see from the screenshot from the news report, the doors to the company have a sign up that says, “Off limits to stakeholders” (관계자외 출입금지).

This is only the second time an operating license for a shipping company has been canceled since the October 10, 1993 tragic sinking of the MV Seohae near Wido in which 292 Koreans lost their lives. Before that, the previous largest ferry accident was December 15, 1970 when 323 people were killed in a sinking accident near Namyoung.


Investigation into ChongHaeJin Shipping Owner 유병언

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And according to this article, the government has placed a 22-day travel ban on the company’s owner, his family, and company officials – a total of 30 people. They have also launched an investigation of the company, its holding companies and affiliates for various reasons including employee embezzlement, breach of trust, tax evasion, concealing assets, unauthorized expansion, safety inspection procedures, permits, and so on.

The President of the company (유병언, 73, pictured above) is estimated to have assets of 240 billion won ($231 million USD) in Hong Kong, the US, France, and elsewhere to advance the establishment of 13 overseas subsidiaries and their assets. This number has only been confirmed to be at least 100 billion won ($96 million USD). The investigation is now focused on finding concealed assets.

The eldest son (44), the largest shareholder in the company, and second son (42), director of media representatives are known to have moved to Europe last spring and are also sought for investigation. Financial authorities, separate from the company, are also being investigated on charges of foreign exchange violations. It is likely the investigation will not stop here because shipping companies – by their very nature – have raised the possibility of illegal trading.


Example of Illegal Activities

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The picture above gives a clear understanding of some of the safety rules that were violated and led to this tragedy. That is only one example of the many that are being investigated.

The numbers on the left show what was reported when the Sewol left port. The numbers on the right show the actual numbers of tons of cargo (top) and cars (bottom).

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