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Waterfall - Jeju Island

Their saga has been widely reported.  44 Chinese nationals jumped ship on Korea’s Jeju Island on Sunday.  More prosaically, and more accurately, they disembarked Costa Classica for a day’s outing on the resort island with many of their fellow passengers and failed to return.  Had you been present at the time, you would have been able to identify them – they were the people carrying their luggage!

As of this writing, 11 members of the group have been found and deported, turned over to Chinese police authorities.  The other 33, when found, will face a similar fate.

Why did they do it?  Many of the articles maintain that the group planned to make for the Korean mainland and get jobs.  Is this really the case, or has it simply attained the status of fact through repetition?  I haven’t read any article which claims to have had direct contact with the detainees.

One longs for a loftier motivation, one not quite so mundane, a motivation that would help crystalize thought processes.  Perhaps mundane is the best we’re going to get.  In a situation that is, to my mind, incongruous at best, the noblest response is a bit uncertain.

The Republic of Korea (South Korea) is treating the issue as one of illegal immigration.  There’s no indication that the group sought political asylum, so South Korea may well be correct.  Illegal immigration is certainly an issue which has incited a fair amount of heated debate here in the US and is, perhaps, a troublesome issue for Korea as well.  Their response may well be dictated by the need to protect their own citizens’ best interests, or even by law or treaty.

In my mind, however, I keep coming back to one major concern – they are being turned over to Chinese police authorities.  Now my concern might be completely unfounded.  Perhaps China has fully embraced the concepts of human rights and punishment in fair measure as befits the crime.  I’m not convinced, however.  I suspect and fear that their days on Costa Classica were the last good ones these hapless job seekers will experience for a while.

Technorati Tags: chinese tourists, Costa Classica, Costa Cruise Lines, cruise ship, deported, Jeju Island, jump ship, Republic of Korea, South Korea

Sometimes When It Rains, It Pours

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Costa Classica

I imagine this is a week that can’t end soon enough for the captain and crew of the Costa Classica.  On Sunday, 44 Chinese passengers essentally jumped ship while docked at Korea’s Jeju Island.  Actually, they simply disembarked with everyone else, seemingly intent on enjoying a day on the resort island.  Unlike the other passengers, however, they never returned to the ship.  It was subsequently discovered that they left with their luggage, but without their passports, apparently aiming to make their way to the South Korean mainland.

Eleven of the passengers were found in local hotels and remain in police custody, awaiting deportation.  The hunt is still on for the remaining 33, who will face a similar fate when found.

Meanwhile, Costa Classica, lighter by 44 passengers, departed Jeju Island at 3PM on Sunday, bound for Shanghai.  At around 445AM on Monday, at the mouth of the Yangtze River, Costa Classica collided with 173,000 dwt bulker* Lowlands Longevity.  The Shanghai Maritime Safety Bureau has concluded, at least initially, that a power glitch caused the Classica to lose control.  The result is a 60 foot gash or crease in Classica’s hull above the water line.

Costa Classica’s next cruise has been cancelled while repairs are made.

*A bulker is a cargo vessel that carries unpackaged bulk cargo,  such as grains and coal.   The Lowland Longevity has a capacity of 173,000 metric tons of deadweight (dwt).

Technorati Tags: chinese tourists, Costa Classica, Costa Cruise Lines, Cruise line, cruise ship, Jeju Island, jumped ship, Korea