Owner of sunken ferry blamed for 5 earlier crashes
SEOUL, South Korea - Well before more than 300 people died this spring aboard the South Korean ferry Sewol, government investigators blamed the company's sailors for five other crashes.
Three of the incidents occurred within a 12-month span in 2006 and 2007. After those occurred, a government investigator chided the company for failing to make safety reforms.
Chonghaejin Marine Co.'s punishment for those five failures: two one-month suspensions for sailors, three verbal warnings to captains, one verbal warning to the company and at least one fine, of 7.5 million won ($7,400).
None of the crashes caused fatalities, but together, some experts say, they were reason enough for regulators to suspend or even revoke the company's license. That never happened, and in fact Chonghaejin was allowed to expand by adding the Sewol to its fleet.