Yes, It’s Illegal for a Captain to Abandon Ship in South Korea



As the death toll rises from the sinking of South Korea’s Sewol ferry, which left 300 dead or missing, blame has been placed on the captain who decided to abandon ship as his passengers were left to die below—reportedly told by the crew to stay put inside the boat.

Captain Lee Jun-seok’s actions have not only been derided as the “evil of Sewol” by the public and “akin to murder” by his president, but also led to his arrest on suspicions of negligence and abandonment. Crew members are facing charges as well. This has led to a widespread discussion as to whether a civilian captain abandoning their ship is not just a cowardly act, but a criminal one as well.

In spite of a historic precedence of valor — the Titanic’s captain is an iconic example of honorably going down with the ship — there aren’t…

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