Professor Resigns after Criticizing Sewol Victims’ Families

The backlash to a professor’s controversial Facebook comments has been the most controversial news story on the Korean internet for days. Professor Kim Ho-wol at Hongdae University criticized the behavior of the families of victims in the Sewol sinking, who have joined protests and criticized official management of the disaster.

While the professor’s case seems to have ended with his resignation, police also investigated internet comments on Ilbe in the days after the disaster for insulting the victims.

Article from Hankyoreh:

‘The families act so entitled’ Professor Resigns over Incendiary Comments

(Reported by Hong Seok-jae) The Hongdae University adjunct professor who harshly criticized the families of Sewol victims submitted a letter of resignation on May 13th, considered to be an apology for his actions.

Professor Kim uploaded the following post to his Facebook on the 13th, ‘I submitted my letter of resignation today to the dean of the graduate school. I would like to let you know that from now on I will not be a university professor…I would like to voice my sincere apology once again to the families of the deceased. As I put myself and my affairs in order, I will make sure to go to the temple I attend and pray that the victims will quickly be returned to their families’ embrace.’ He added, ‘I ask you to please stop calling the university with messages of protest. I ask you to please stop threatening me and my family. I ask you also to please stop denigrating me, my family, my students, and many other students who are not related to me.”

On May 9th and earlier on April 29th, Kim controversially stated the following on his Facebook,”What is with these victims’ families acting so damn entitled? This is why they are called uncivilized.”, “Why should the government support a bunch of rude animals? Their favorite political party and civic groups should be helping them with every problem.”

The professor's posts on Facebook

The professor’s posts on Facebook

A flood of criticism followed, most of it through social media. On the day before Professor Kim submitted his letter of resignation, Hongdae University students called an all-university meeting attended by student groups, where they issued a public demand that, ‘this inhuman and immoral educator should no longer teach or lead Hongdae students. We demand that Professor Kim issue an immediate and sincere apology with no room for doubt and that he resign.’

On the day before his resignation, Professor Kim also stated on his Facebook, ‘I am deeply remorseful for having hurt the families of the victims with my ignorant and thoughtless remarks, I have destroyed my true purpose as a teacher of students, and am sorry that I wrote something that should never have been written…I have been punished for my actions and promise to not write or act in any way that would cause this to happen again.’ When his apologies could not satisfy critical public opinion, Professor Kim submitted his resignation.

Comments from Daum:


You say that you value the respect and reputation of your family, then what about the families of the victims and their pain? Are you saying they shouldn’t care about respect for their children? You are definitely a problem, but reading some of the hateful comments here, it looks like this message board has become a second Ilbe.


I expect to soon see an article about this guy joining the Saenuri Party


Don’t let him get retirement compensation, fire him. Garbage like you should have been on that boat when it sank.

미스터 해피:

This professor has no brains…says bullshit about the families… This bitch has no right to be a professor…


The professor is well on his way to the Blue House‘s press department… Will they scout him directly from the minor leagues?


He looks like a fool, trying to make a big deal out of his resignation. Aren’t you sorry to the students and school you humiliated? He acts like a certain Chicken president…and her Saenuri party…


Think about your children dying an unfair death, would you be polite? Civilized? Seriously. You’re the uncivilized freak here who doesn’t know what he’s doing.


I’m curious what temple would let you in to pray…


An adjunct professor is just someone who lectures for a year. He thought too much of himself and went too far. Apologize and live quietly. You’ve got to know what you did wrong.


I bet my left ball that this bastard is a Saenuri party member and an Ilbe user.


He’s bound for freaking Saenuri. [transl: using an insulting misspelling of Saenuri]


Why is he asking people to not treat him the same way he treated those families? Don’t you know that you have to treat others the way you want to be treated?

참죠 경제:

I don’t think you can call yourself an adjunct professor. You’re just like a day laborer. Go back to your real job.

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  • k.ftw

    Whatever you think, there are some situations that requires silence. It’s like people who feel the need to judge those who commit suicide. I get his point, but he missed the opportunity to shut up.

    • MannersinKorea?lol, yeh right!

      Peace is not the absence of conflict. It’s just not. They guy had a point, and considering upsetting the mob cost him his job, I think lets all just shut up” is about the dumbest take possible..

  • bigmamat

    I guess this incident just proves that no matter how educated you are there is some kind of mental breakdown that occurs with rabid political affiliation. Obviously this professor wouldn’t have bothered to comment if he wasn’t disgusted by the protests against the government. I’d have to assume he’s a Park supporter just from the way he suggested the families get help from “their favorite political party”. I’d be inclined to agree. I think if the Park administration is not willing to take public safety seriously then concerned citizens should look to the other party. I’d be more than willing to bet that out of those 300 kids who died their families vote. If they didn’t then they have a strong reason to now.

  • KCdude

    This Sewol incident is creating lots of impact on other sectors of the society. People don’t get over this incident in a clean approach. Generally in a negative way. I’m afraid that this can break the whole society up.

    • chucky3176

      Everyone stopped buying stuff, stopped going to concerts, as all events canceled. There is no more laughter in ROK anymore. The only ones laughing are the droves of Asian tourists who just flew into this mess having no ideal. Go to Myungdong, hardly any Koreans there anymore, it’s all Chinese and Japanese tourists. People are short fused more than usual, and people seem like they are more brittle and much more sensitive towards everything that’s said. I hear cases of post traumatic syndrome and depression is rising. Look for another spike in suicides. in coming months, while economic growth plunged in April. If things don’t pick up soon, there will be severe recession. How long this is going to go on is a big question.

      • tomoe723

        Wow, is it really that bad to linger on this much? I’m inclined to believe what someone else said here that “South Korea can’t handle disaster.” Japan had earthquakes and tsunamis casualties both caused by man-made and natural circumstances. Most of south east Asia, too, typhoons, airplane crashes, earthquakes and tsunamis again, or train wrecks/crashes… the anger and rage doesn’t linger that long. People just accept and move on.

  • Chucky3176

    The best thing to do at this moment in Korea, is to just remain silent. The mood is like a powder keg. It could blow any moment now. This is true, if you say the wrong things, and even if you say the right things, you’ll be accused of having alternative motives. And whatever you say, the meaning could be twisted around by overly sensitive someone, when that’s not what you really meant. This is not just for famous people, it’s anyone who has public social networking accounts. People’s trust in everything is gone, I mean gone. Just stay quiet, stay low, don’t stick out, and stay away from publicly commenting about this accident unless you’re totally anonymous. The internet police and the mob are on the prowl for anything that could get you in trouble. That professor’s life is screwed now. He’s going to be public enemy number one, not just for him, but also his entire family is marked for retributions. And for what? Making a stupid comment about the families of the victims, was all that sacrifice of his job and his family over the comment, worth it? Dumb.

    • holdingrabbits

      True, but people quickly forget. What were the other outrages that everyone forgot about? Remember that time that G-dragon smoked pot and corrupted the youth of Korea? I think he’s fine. People just need something to be pissed about and then they’ll forget once something new comes along.

      • rofl G-Dragon
        “i thought it was a cigarette, when I tasted it I said to myself ‘hey this isn’t a cigarette”

        • wrle

          oh someone follows kpop news.

    • Hwang Dongseong

      The professor said trash, but the Korean reaction is also insane. I feel there is not freedom of speech in Korea against majorities.

      • bumfromkorea

        “Freedom of Speech” = “Freedom from government persecution for your speech” =/= “Freedom from public criticism for saying incredibly offensive shit”

        Why does everyone think that “Freedom of Speech” extends to public reaction? The social studies teachers of the world should be ashamed.

    • Jon Doe

      you sound like a true Korean…a sheep to the masses, with no dissenting voice. What Korea needs to do is talk about their lack of quality control, and the lack of ability to speak up to superiors. Get some balls and tell your Boss that loading 4000 tons onto a max tare weight 1500 ton ship is ridiculous and won’t be done. Thats right…balls are needed.

      • Sillian

        Some claim Koreans are confrontational, whiny and quarrelsome.
        Some claim Koreans are sheep to the masses with no dissenting voice. I should pay more attention to the parallel universe theory.

        • chucky3176

          I know. Isn’t it ridiculous. “no dissenting voice”, wow that’s the furthest thing from the truth.

      • BlameyourselvesKoreaUallowIt

        Yeh really..! They also removed the ballast… What kind of professional sailor would be crazy enough to step foot on the ship…? Trouble is, the local Pros seem to have known, and also done nothing…?! Those in crew are NOT pros, but even then, culpable in as much as they are ignorant, or worse understood..!

        Time your country did some soul searching, yet, Korea..? Evil fucks like this owner are on every other corner, in South Korea, why be surprised now..?

    • wrle

      What this professor said was insensitive to the families but part of what he said was true. Lets just be honest. Koreans seem to be so irrational sometimes to point that even I cant understand them myself. Everyone is beating their chests and scapegoating the president, and this is also just a perfect opportunity for anti government extremists.

      Yet it seems like no one in the korean public is protesting about the REAL issue that caused all this, because of corrupt business practice of profits vs safety and the collusion with government. Hardly anyone is making headlines about fixing safety regulations in the korean industry to stop these things from happening again in the future. The korean irrationality of emotion over matter is just so frustrating sometimes. And this nature that anyone who speaks out otherwise should be labelled an Ilbe.

      Even though I am not condoning the park administration in anyway (It was very negligent) Koreans are only complaining about government control of media on SNS and the color of president parks outfits at meetings not being black. How will this mentality fix the problem or make korea a safer country? It should be a time for koreans to gather in strength. Would citizens in other countries react the same way as koreans are doing now? They love freedom of speech, but there is not freedom for minorities or people who speak more rationally about certain issues.

  • linette lee

    Is it because South Korea is too peaceful and not much natural disasters like hurricane, tsunami, earthquake, rainstorm floods or terrorist attack like 911. You don’t see China, Japan, or USA society react like this. They have these disasters all the time thousands die earthquake and floods. South Korea can’t handle disaster.
    They are in constant threat from North Korea so why they are so overwhelmed by Sewol? Of course it’s really really tragic. They need to improve the regulation and move on.

    • Chucky3176

      Well it’s like this. This is Korea’s 911, except the enemies came from within, and not externally. That is why it’s so much more devastating than a regular disaster. Plus the fact that Koreans are shocked that this kind of man made disaster stuff that was common in the 1990’s, still happened now when everyone thought that those days were well behind them. Also all those hear wrenching text messages from young teens to their parents, before the ship sunk, makes people’s nightmare come true.
      Heck, I’ve had nightmare dreams about that disaster with all those people trapped inside the ship crying out for help. We’re all trying to make a sense of it all.

      • linette lee

        I see. That is horrible. I understand. Especially when the parents got their children last text messages. Must be extremely heartbreaking. But the whole country daily activities get affected to this level is a bit too much.

        And this is no 911 at all. No where near it. Were you in NYC when the twin towers came crumbling down? Two whole buildings 110 floors. You can not imagine the magnitude. My cousin she was working in the next building. It was like experiencing a nuclear war happening around her. People jumping off the buildings. Bodies on the ground in pieces. No one in this life time will experience something so traumatic. And thank God I wasn’t there in NYC that day. I was in Queens studying in school. And where my family live during that time our windows can see a bit of the twin towers but our view is blocked mostly by other buildings. We can see black smoke in the sky. I can smell the black smoke. It’s bitter and dark. I still remember.

        • Chucky3176

          Well, maybe it’s not as bad as 911 attack, but it’s the similar type of national trauma caused by corruption which could have been prevented. It just made Koreans angry how much rot there still is at the moment, that it’s leading to frustration, anger, and depression. This incident took a knife to the heart of Korea’s confidence. Right now, it’s a mortal wound that’s going to take a long time to heal. Hopefully real meaningful changes will happen out of this.

          • Voice of China

            Koreans are hypersensitive due to their small xenophobic and sheltered outlook on life. Comparing this to 911 is ridiculous.

            This incident was a one off disaster caused by human error. No amount of reform was ever going to prevent something like this from happening even in the most developed countries.

            If there is one thing that Chinese people know well, its that Koreans take themselves too seriously. Suicides over nothing, obscene drinking culture and inferiority complex. One student dies in Australia and the whole country goes wild. The truth is that nobody except Koreans take themselves as seriously as they do. Korea is truly a backwards country filled with imbeciles.

          • durianman

            So true that i began to tear up….

          • Wonsalonelynumber

            Yep I definitely feel moved.. No wait, that’s a bowel movement, never mind.. Ha ha.

          • Voice of America

            Spoken like a true Chinese. If there is one thing that all people know well, it’s that life in China is cheap. 900 people die in one accident and nobody would raise an eyebrow because nobody cares.

          • FreeThis…!.

            Lol, that’s hilarious…! No wait, you’re SERIOUS..? Sunshine, a yank might think twice..( yet never does.. Sigh ) about lecturing anyone over rights of others… Since when did US ever prove it gives a flying fuk about anyone’s rights, least of all foreigners..?

            Tell it to the Mexicans working for 50 cent a day in US farm industry..? Since you won’t give them. Visa, maybe they should try China, probably pay us better at least…!

            It’s one thing if ” life is cheap” in a country, it’s something else again, if you think it’s cheap in SOMEONE ELSE’S country, like america seems to respect not even its ALLIES sovereignty .. ( ie kidnap Germans for rendition in Pakistan.. , thanks unkie CIA, we love u man!, NOT..!)
            On the upside, US citizens no longer have any rights either, so NOW you know how WE feel about it..!

          • Sillian

            Assuming you aren’t just trolling… Are you saying this with a straight face as a Chinese nationalist? Yep, we all know China has the perfect advanced humane society. xD

          • KoreanEatingTrollsUnion

            I’m trolling…. Lol. He’s not… Try to keep up, k..? Lol

          • TheKorean

            Go back to your shithole call China, you jjangkae. Don’t come to my country, vermin.

          • Voice of China

            Spoken like a true Korean.

            I will go to your country when it pleases me, because like the minority of well educated Chinese who have benefited from the economic development of the country, I can afford to.

            I happen to like Korea for a lot of things.

            1. The taxi drivers are predominantly very honest and South Korea is relatively safe

            2. The food is cheap and to my taste

            2. The women (despite having surgery) are relatively attractive.

            I can tell you that i enjoy having multiple relationships with various Korean girls. If Korean men weren’t such cockblockers, this would be much easier.

            But being Chinese, I’m smart enough to not let the cockblockers get to me. First of all, I don’t buy the superficial shit they feed me about being my friend; secondly, I don’t openly physically show affection to the girls and get drunk as fuck, lastly I praise Korea to death while in front of them.

            It also helps, the fact that I have a perfect grasp of the english language, my job and the fact that I’m considered physically fairly attractive even by Korean standards.

            So keep whining “TheKorean”, I will be coming back for more of your women this October. Are you ready?

          • Chucky3176

            Sounds like an ESL teacher white guy, possibly from Australia.

          • Chucks mightywhiteforaracist..

            As a white guy, Esl teacher from Australia, you sound to me like a funk wit racist hypocrite Korean wanker, even without knowing what you mean, drop kick..

            Ps I left Korea and swore I’d never go back to that shuthole,EVER.. Now if the Koreans could be dissuaded from going to, let alone settling in Aystralia, that d be nice, thanks Chucky… Ok..?

          • chucky3176

            touchy, aren’t we?

          • Chuckyhumpedmyleg

            Yeh, maybe I’m Korean then..? Bite me..

            Then again, I might be freely … I’m certainly ” grumpy” what’s your point, dopey..?

          • Cold Truth

            Korean women aren’t attractive to chinese men in any standard. Unless you’re into pig-nosed austronegritos. LOL

          • Voice of China

            Fair comment but not entirely accurate.

            I consider myself fairly open to criticism and learning about life in general.

            Yes, it is twice as difficult to get a Korean girl as a Chinese person in Korea. But that can be negated with a few things (depending on whether you are there for the sex or whether you want a serious relationship).

            If you’re just there for a fling, there are a few very easy ways to get around the prejudice towards Chinese. Simply by not playing the rules. I’ll start from easiest to do to the hardest:

            1. Go to the right area –

            Gangnam: only if you want to flash the keys to a nice car, have a few friends and open a table and be prepared to spend money.

            Hongdae: for the easy prey – young college girls – some who are quite open to cultural interaction.

            2. Speak English – and speak it well.

            3. Be good looking –

            Genetically an attractive Korean male will only look as good as an attractive Chinese man – that is having double eyelids, slimmer face (not pancake). Where Chinese men in general fall short of this is dressing like shit and not going to the f**ing gym. Solve these, and generally if you are Chinese, your face (even if ugly) is already better looking than most Korean guys.

            4. Exhibit wealth – even if you aren’t wealthy. But if you are wealthy, then this generally helps even more. Talk about your cars and houses abroad and how you’ll take her to buy a LV Bag the next day even though clearly you won’t (Korean bi%$s are usually cheaper to buy than Chinese so Hermes is overkill).

            5. Remember the rule that all Korean guys are cockblockers (no exception).

            6. Get them drunk – this is a very important step in Korean culture. Once you get them drunk, they don’t remember you as the Chinese guy. You become the good looking foreign guy with money.

            The Coldtruth is that if you follow my above steps, any Chinese guy can have very good success with Korean women. It’s about displaying class and playing the right cards.

          • BigTudesSmllCks

            Korean men act as if they planted a flag if THEY fuck a foriegn woman.. ( especially Japanese..)

            And….will spit at a Korean girl in the street ( literally ) if she even walks down the street with a westerner..

            Korean men, being cock scared will not generally chase a western woman, or perhaps know thier wonky arrogance goes over about as well as a pork chop in a synogog with western women..?

            Voice of China, stick a cocktail umbrella in one for us… Just kidding, but certainly ” wind up the men” they deserve it..!

          • RacistWhiteGuyTrolling

            Why are you talking to yourself?

          • DontfretwedontwannacomeKorea

            Korea is the anus of the universe, by comparison, china is like shangrila.. Vermin..? Korean vermin should handin their passports, entirely.. ( And their library cards..) You re not welcome anywhere anyway, why not just stay home..?

            Lol u really do suck a lot huh..?

            Korea, like China, but without the culture or dignity, like Thailand without the smiles, like Taiwan, but not as smart, like Japan, except without the honor, or sincerity, Dubai, except that plane might crash, land of the morning calm, which starts at 4:31, and ends at 4:37.. Where Balibali means fuck it up twice, and be busy lying your ass off.. Yes, that da business, Korea… Not…

          • Bestscumbagsaward,Korea..

            Exactly, well said..

            Ask a Korean ” what history you study/like..?” ( lol, ” history” my ass..). The answer will be ” Korean history”

            Make no mistake, many if these brainwashed fiks ( SOUTH Korea..! Let alone north..) think it’s the only kind.. ( as in ” both kinds of music, country AND western..)

            See below ” thekorean” I bet he read that ” history” ( in 200 volumes, the contents of which sums up as ” china and Japan, bad, Korea the holy spotless centre of the universe”…No, really….)

            Yes, Indeed, Voice of China, ” spoken like a true Korean!! ”

            Then they leave a stinky trail of lies and misdeeds everywhere they go, and have the unmitigated Gaul to be indignant when they are hated and unwelcome where ever they go..!

            Sign seen outside a cafe in SEA ” no dogs, no Koreans, no kidding”. Wonder how THAT happened…? Was it the rich warm and rewarding experience of Koreans glowingly sweet actions..? I doubt it…! ( more likely their vicious lying cheating stealing, run away at night and don’t pay yor bills because you could crap, among others..!

        • agentS

          A more matching disaster would be either the Costa Concordia ferry sinking, or the West, Texas chemical plant explosion.

          The safety rules exist for a reason. And if you don’t follow them, you die.

      • KoreaNotCivilised,RodEm..

        Board a bus just once in Korea, and you ll begin to suspect their need to greedily climb over each other for a lousy seat is BEYOND mere lack of manners, but a deeply pathological one.. People with such a mindset shouldn’t be surprised when someone’s self greed comes before the lives of others…

        Until Korea learns to overcome their crazy selfishness, ” man made disaster” is a word they better get used to..

        Koreans think they are better than others, individual Kioreans often care ZERO about the other person, this kind does it everyday..! Plenty of Koreans are nice, I’d say they are TOO nice to these selfish assholes, ” spare the rod, spoil the child” …

        I think many Koreans need the ROD, and only other Koreans can give them what they need..! If you don’t, it might be YOUR child that dies next time…!

  • face

    guess they cant handle the fact that their perfect number 1 country fucked up so badly. that aught to have wiped a few smug kimchee breathed smile off these dipshits.

    • Rutim’s Mom

      oh hi, Rutim.

    • durianman

      He’s absolutely right too, Koreans are largely entitled, bitter and quarrelsome.They are well engineered to be like that from day 1.
      I am noticing a pattern though, the most rational, truth speaking Koreans are the few properly educated ones. The rest will simply take anything you say about Korea (that isn’t worship) as a personal insult and start some knee-jerk brain fart rant filled with persecution complex, irrational blame games, swearing and epic (and frankly, sad) super-jingoism.
      WTF Neo-confucianism.

      • BigottedKorea,UdaBest,Man,Not.

        Ha ha. Yes, indeed..! If you send your psycho lying fuck evil stealing greedy bastards out into the world, surprise surprise we all begin to think Koreans are a life form somewhere lower than pond scum… Might be time to get over yourselves long enough to make such behaiour unacceptable in your country… Hint, it ain’t acceptable in ours either…funny that..!

      • 엔타이틀

        I know. Those entitled Koreans… all they lost were their kids. What kind of idiots put trust into the school system and public safety. Unacceptable.

  • Claire

    He is stupid to post to a public forums. when to share and not to share.

  • michael561

    Another lesson in how the internet is a lot more public than you think.

  • Peter Old

    Pay attention kids, this is what happens when you vent your frustrations/anger in the wrong direction. You somehow give your opponents a bullet to shoot you with.

  • commander

    In an increasingly individualistic world, what is genuinely lacking is the sympathy and identification with others which are in trouble and need.

    The ferry sinking disaster is one of national mourning and desperate decry from the bereaved families should not be subject to any cynicism and criticism.

    How could people who suffer the loss of their beloved ones without any act sanely and calmly? And I think their angry reactions to slow response of the government to this incident is fully justifiable. Extremely profound trauma for the grieving families should be soothed in the first place.

  • Mighty曹

    He should commit suicide. (For being so stupid with Facebook).

    • harvz

      For real. How can someone be that stupid? It’s common knowledge that the Korean public likes to flex their muscle when someone steps out of line and does something [very arbitrarily] deemed offensive. How did he not see this coming and think “oh, okay, I’ll just hit alt f4 now”

      • Mighty曹

        I’d be pissed too even if I don’t have any loved ones who were victims. For him to say that when the families were still in morning is just wrong.

        • harvz

          I agree. No common sense. I guess he surrounded himself with retards who thought like him and forgot what is completely inappropriate.

          • Mighty曹

            Facebook can make people stupid. Seeing all the ‘Likes’ on a comment can lead one to post more and more bold statements.

    • Mightysickuarenothuman

      U should have been drowned at birth, then..?

      • Mighty曹

        You should’ve been aborted.

  • hello123

    who does he think he is? donald sterling? keep your mouth shut

  • Acting so damn entitled? How absolutely disingenuous to the families who have lost their children, their wonderful children so full of hope, who can not be replaced, ever. Families with a most genuine grievance. They did not lose their new sofa they have been robbed of their heart and soul by the ineptitude of the very bureaucracy that purports to protect them, rolled out each election time to sing the praises of the political establishment. If losing hundreds of your children due to ineptitude is not a time for outrage, then when would the dear professor care to explain is the right time. augh!!

  • ji

    What the.. So many Korean haters here.

  • bumfromkorea

    I don’t know what I love more. The wave of trollkins creating specific sn to get a rise out of everyone here, or the fact that people here largely ignore them. I would say these trollkins will burn in hell, but that presumably would be an improvement from their present reality.

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