Executive Receives Reduced Sentence for Ferry Disaster

Kim Han-Sik
Kim Han-Sik making a tearful apology to victim's families

Published May 12, 2015 8:01 PM by Kathryn Stone

A South Korean appeals court passed down a reduced sentence Tuesday for the CEO of the company operating the Sewol ferry, a vessel that sank last year killing more than 300 people. 

A lower court sentenced Kim Han-Sik to 10 years in prison in November on counts of accidental homicide and embezzlement. However, today’s ruling reduces the executive’s prison term to seven years. 

An investigation into the disaster found that Kim, along with other officials belonging to the Chonghaejin Marine Co., had routinely allowed vessels to be overloaded and had permitted illegal ship modifications to increase passenger capacity.  Additionally, the CEO had pocketed money from the company that prosecutors argued could have been used to increase safety on the ferries. 

Kim argued that the court should reconsider the homicide conviction against him since he claimed to be acting under the direction of the company’s owner, Yoo Byung-Eun. The appeals court rejected the homicide argument, but did lessen the jail sentence on the embezzlement charge citing that they believed Kim had not acted out of personal interests. 

The Captain of the Sewol Ferry, Lee Jun-seok was convicted of murder in April of this year for fleeing the scene of the incident and failing to help passengers. In total, 304 people were killed in the ferry sinking, 240 of which were local high school students.