Prosecutors in the Sewol ferry case are pursuing the death sentence for Lee Joon Seok, the captain of the Sewol ferry that sank in April.
The 69-year-old was charged with homicide after failing to carry out his duty as captain, abandoning the ship along with 14 other crew members after telling the passengers to stay put in their cabins. As a result, over 300 lives were lost, including the lives of over 200 high school students.
The incident was a national tragedy that attracted worldwide attention, leading to cancelled shows and frantic government policies. While the nation grieved for the lives lost, many also blamed themselves and committed suicide.
Lee Joon Seok made the statement “I’m very sorry. I am deeply ashamed of myself” to investigators but did not plead guilty to the charge of murder, despite admitting to all other charges. Netizens attacked the captain for his poor excuses, demanding justice for the victims of the tragic event. It seems as though the courts have answered their wishes, imposing the death sentence on the captain.
There have been seven death sentences meted by South Korean courts in recent years, although no executions have been held since 1997. The first and second mates, as well as the chief engineer of the ship were sentenced to life in prison, while 11 others are set to serve prison terms ranging from 15 to 30 years.