In The News – Ferry Passengers Faced Horrible Choice
Jindo, South Korea—As rescuers search for more survivors of this week’s ferry disaster, passengers who made it out are recounting their ordeal. Loudspeakers ordered “Don’t move!” even though the five-story ship was sinking. So far, only people who disobeyed by jumping into the frigid ocean have survived.
Survivor Ji Chul Song initially obeyed orders to stay put. “But suddenly, the water came up to my face,” she said. “So I think it was a narrow escape from dying.”
Of the 475 passengers on the ferry, more than 300 were Seoul high school students and teachers heading to an island for a four-day field trip. Officials say 276 people are trapped onboard yet, and some could still be alive.
More than 170 ships and 500 divers are racing to get to survivors, but they face poor weather, swift currents, and low visibility. Initial efforts to pump air into the ship failed.
The ferry was apparently sailing off course and made a sharp turn about the time it started to tilt. Experts say it likely sustained major damage to have sunk in just two hours. According to a report, only one lifeboat was deployed.
Captian Lee Jun-seok, 69, briefly appeared before reporters, saying he was sorry and at a loss for words. “I can’t raise my face before the passengers and family members of the missing,” he said. Lee, one of the first people to leave the ferry, could face criminal charges.
Angry family members are critical of the South Korean government, saying it hasn’t made all possible efforts to rescue passengers. Some parents are now hiring their own rescue boats.
Christine Kim said she had to convince her high school daughter to go on the trip; she told her it would be a good experience. Now the distraught mother says, “My daughter is in the water.” and “All of this happened because of me.”
Sources: cnn.com, nytimes.com
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Discussion Questions for Student Small Groups
Besides the loss of life, what makes this unfolding tragedy so difficult to watch? Do you think there’s any hope of escape for the trapped passengers? Why or why not?
During a crisis or difficult situation, what are some obstacles to making good decisions? If your life were in danger, how likely do you think you’d be to obey authorities? to do whatever you could to save yourself? Would your first thought be about self-preservation? helping people around you? contacting loved ones? Explain.
Think of a time you’ve felt paralyzed with fear. Why can it be so hard to take action—even when you know what you should do? During times of intense fear or worry, what does it take to be able to move forward or confront what’s scaring you?
Do you usually assume that people in authority over you have your best interests in mind? Why or why not? When, if ever, would you consider willfully disobeying them?
What are some things your parents try to protect or “rescue” you from? Do you appreciate or resent their efforts? Explain. Do you ever put yourself in harm’s way intentionally, just to prove a point to your parents?
When has a gut instinct about a situation or person served to protect you? Do you think God uses such instincts or feelings as a way of telling you something? Why or why not?
What would you say to parents who are blaming themselves for this tragedy? Have you ever talked someone into something and later regretted it? If so, explain.
What type of “lifeboat” can you offer to people who are hurting or who feel hopeless? In what ways has God equipped you to act as a spiritual rescuer? What are the biggest obstacles standing in your way of performing this important work?
Scripture links: Psalm 34:17-20; Mark 4:35-41; John 14:27; Romans 8:31-39; 2 Timothy 4:16-18; and Titus 3:1-2.