Captain of doomed South Korean ferry apologizes for failure to rescue

admin   •   October 8, 2014   •   2129

A man looks at yellow ribbons dedicated to dead and missing passengers onboard sunken passenger ship Sewol at Seoul City Hall Plaza May 15, 2014.
CREDIT: REUTERS/KIM HONG-JI

(Reuters) – The captain of a South Korean ferry that capsized in April killing about 300 people, most of them school children, apologized in court on Wednesday for his failure to rescue passengers in the country’s worst maritime disaster for decades.

“I have committed a grave crime. I am sorry,” Lee Joon-seok, the 68-year-old captain, was quoted as saying by Yonhap News Agency.

Anger and grief gripped the nation after the disaster, and President Park Geun-hye’s government was heavily criticized for what was seen as a botched rescue operation.

The overloaded ferry Sewol had capsized while making a turn on a routine voyage to the holiday island of Jeju. The victims totaled 304 people killed or missing.

Lee was among 15 crew members accused of abandoning the sharply listing ferry after telling the passengers to stay put in their cabins.

Four, including the captain face homicide charges. Lee has denied any intent to kill.

The rest face lesser charges, including negligence.

“I know I can’t get out of the prison no matter how much my lawyer and God help me. But I can’t have my children and grandchildren called a murderer’s family,” Lee said.

“I have never had any intent to kill.”

Video footage of the crew abandoning the vessel after instructing the passengers, mostly teenagers, to remain in their cabins caused outrage across South Korea.

Some crew drank beer while waiting for rescue, one of them told a court, in an admission that fueled greater anger at their conduct during a critical time during the disaster.

The court is expected to rule in November.

In the wake of the disaster, South Korean police launched the country’s largest-ever manhunt for Yoo Byung-un, the head of the family that owned the ferry operator, and his family and associates.

Yoo was wanted on charges including embezzlement and negligence that prosecutors contend contributed to the disaster.

Yoo was found dead in a plum orchard in June, but his body was not identified for more than a month, despite being the focus of a nationwide search. Forensics have failed to identify the cause of death.

Kim Hye-kyung, a close aide of Yoo, was captured in the United States on charges of embezzlement and brought back to Korean authorities on Tuesday. Prosecutors view Kim as a key person managing Yoo’s funds.

Prosecutors sought on Thursday a four-year prison sentence for Yoo’s first son, according to local media. His second son is still at large.

(Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

DND wants to acquire helicopters from South Korea

Robie de Guzman   •   October 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Friday expressed his department’s intention to acquire helicopters from South Korea.

In a statement, Lorenzana said the DND is looking to acquire South Korean UH-1H and MD500 helicopters.

He, however, said the acquisition project is still in the “exploratory stage.”

Its details, including the timeline and quantity of the assets to be acquired, have yet to be finalized, he added.

In a congratulatory letter to newly-appointed Republic of Korea Minister of National Defense Suh Wook, Lorenzana also bared DND’s plan to conduct a Joint Visual Inspection (JVI) in the fourth quarter of 2020.

The team will be composed of representatives from the DND and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Lorenzana assured that the JVI will be conducted following strict biosafety protocols amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Filipinos who get COVID-19 in South Korea to shoulder full treatment cost starting August 24

Marje Pelayo   •   August 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the Philippines has advised Filipinos of the policy change covering subsidies for foreigners who get infected by coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

According to the existing policy, the South Korean government has been shouldering all medical expenses of foreign nationals who get sick of COVID-19. However, starting August 24, all foreigners who get infected in South Korea within 14 days from entry must be responsible for their own medical expenses.

Currently, the Phillippine government supports treatment costs for Korean nationals who tested positive for COVID-19 and who were confined in government hospitals and other medical facilities in the country.

In exchange for this gesture, the Korean government will subsidize the hospital room charges for Filipinos in South Korea but they have to pay for their own food on top of the treatment costs.

“Therefore, we hereby recommend all Filipinos to secure private health insurance that could cover treatments received in foreign countries like Korea before entering,” the Embassy said.

In addition to this, the Embassy noted that “mutual agreements can be made in the event that the Philippine government will enlarge its financial support coverage for Koreans in the Philippines.” 

However, the Korean Embassy warned that “irresponsible foreigners and people who disobey Korean government’s quarantine policy shall shoulder all the medical costs starting from August 17, 2020.”

Among the offenses mentioned include submitting fake medical certificates and/or violating quarantine or isolation orders. 

<Public Statement on policy change of subsidizing Covid-19 positive Filipinos in Korea>○ Up to the present, the Korean…

Posted by Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the Philippines on Monday, 17 August 2020

PH returns last batch of hazardous waste to South Korea

Robie de Guzman   •   August 5, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The remaining shipment containing 6,000 metric tons of household hazardous waste was finally sent back to South Korea from the Port of Cagayan de Oro, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said Wednesday.

In a statement, the BOC said the shipment, comprised of 80 containers and loaded on MV Mahia, was re-exported to its origin in Pyeongtaek City on August 4.

There-exportation of the wastes resumed on Tuesday after being halted for some time due to the restrictions imposed amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, it added.

The re-exportation of 251 containers of wastes from South Korea was initiated by the BOC in January but got delayed due to the pandemic, and the failure of the consignee to secure prior import permit from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The bureau said that waste shipments arrived in the country in 2018 at the Port of Cagayan on two separate occasions. It was consigned to Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corporation.

The shipments were both declared plastic synthetic flakes but an inspection conducted by the DENR-Environmental Management Bureau revealed that these contained household hazardous wastes.

The bureau ordered the immediate return of the shipments pursuant to Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act, and the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their disposal.

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