'Millionare With No Face': South Korean Authorities Focus On Yoo Byung-eun, Owner Of Sunken South Korea Ferry Sewol
Authorities investigating the South Korea Ferry tragedy are currently looking into Yoo Byung-eun, a man known as the “millionaire with no face” who owns the company that operated the ferry.
'The Millionaire With No Face'
Yoo earned his mysterious nickname due to his lack of public appearances, despite being a somewhat infamous man. Yoo has had a turbulent history with South Korean authorities. In the early 1990s he spent four years in jail for fraud and in the late 80s was known as the head of a religious cult. In 1987, 30 members of Yoo’s cult were found dead, with authorities believing it was a mass suicide. Yoo was never accused of involvement, and no evidence was found tying him to the deaths of his followers.
Yoo and his two sons own Chonghaejin Marine Co., which bought Sewol (the ferry) in 2012. What caused the ferry to sink remains unknown, but authorities are reportedly looking into whether or not the ship was over capacity at the time of the accident, which has resulted in at least 171 deaths – as of Thursday.
Crew Members Arrested – Investigation Continues
Following the tragic event, the captain, Lee Joon Seok, 68, was arrested along with two crewmembers on suspicion of negligence, and six other crewmembers have since been arrested. Two are currently being detained, but have not yet been formerly arrested. In addition to looking into the crew of the ship, authorities are now looking into the Chonghaejin Marine Co. and the Korean Shipping Association.
The ferry reportedly underwent renovations after being acquired by Chonghaejin Marine Co., which included adding 240 cabins and increasing the ferry’s passenger capacity by 150 people – a total of 476 passengers were onboard when the boat sank. And, new reports are suggesting that Sewol was carrying 3,608 tons when it sank, way over the maximum limit of 987 tons. This suggests that not only was the company breaking the law, but also that safety regulations may not have been upheld or were not enforced by the Korean Shipping Association.
Investigators have reportedly searched the offices of Chonghaejin Marine Co., as well as the offices of 20 organizations connected to Chonghaejin. They have also searched Yoo Byung-eun’s home.
As of Thursday, the death toll has reached 169 and there are still 133 people missing. A majority of those missing are students of a local high school. About 300 students were on the ferry as part of a school field trip – 174 were rescued.
– Olivia Truffaut-Wong
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