A much-publicized photo from the latest accident shows the Korean captain being helped off his own ship, the Sewol, stepping off the deck to safety even as scores of his ferry passengers remained below where survivors believe they became trapped by rushing water and debris.
The behavior has earned the captain, Lee Jun-seok, 69, the nickname the “evil of the Sewol” among bloggers in South Korea. It also landed him in jail.
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Maritime experts called the abandonment shocking — violating a proud international (and South Korean) tradition of stewardship based at least as much on accepted codes of behavior as by law.
“That guy’s an embarrassment to anybody who’s ever had command at sea,” said John B. Padgett III, a retired United States Navy rear admiral and former submarine captain.