Blaming Culture for South Korean Ferry Tragedy

I recently read this TIME article, which explains how some North American media companies are putting the blame of the South Korean ferry tragedy on cultural stereotypes.

Blaming the “culture of obedience” for an accident like this is stupid, ignorant and far-fetched. From my experience teaching at a Korean middle school, students were obedient because they were respectful, not because they were drones. Plus Korea’s “culture of obedience” actually raises the most rebellious and sharply strategic youths. So you can’t label Korean students as genuinely obedient anyway.

We’re talking about being trapped in a sinking ship with hundreds of students here. Even the most obedient student would toss the rules to save him/ herself… But when the scenario is so complex, disorganized, crowded and traumatic, you’d stay put and hope for the best and listen to whoever sounded like they knew what they were talking about. Even the non-obedient would listen and cooperate.

If I was forced to blame a piece of culture, I’d probably point out the culture of wrecklessness especially among elders who prioritize efficiency over safety. Not caring enough to draw out and practise safety measures. In my rural town, a lot of the local bus drivers were wreckless and I could literally fly out the window if I didn’t hold on for my dear life.

But it’s plain and simple, this was a result of the lack of preparation. If you were to dig for it, sure, some cultural factors would tie into it. But had they taken more precaution and didn’t take ferry-cruising as lightly, there could have been different results.