Although piracy is slowly becoming an organized industry among these brazen and impoverished men, once in a while they miscalculate. This is what happened when they seized the Samho Jewelry cargo ship in the Arabian Sea: South Korean commandos stormed the ship in a rescue mission that retrieved all 21 crew members, killed eight pirates and captured five. The captured pirates are now in Busan awaiting trial under heavy media scrutiny.
The South Korean government is keen on demonstrating a muscular response due to recent criticism for a weak counter to North Korea’s shelling of an island in the Yellow Sea last year, which killed four South Koreans.
South Korea is part of a multinational anti-piracy patrol, but the government is also surely using this incident to quickly respond to any doubts that it could handle its own in terms of a conflict with the North.
Jack Lang, the UN Special Advisor on Somali Piracy, states, “I say [b]ravo, well done, for Korea, the Netherlands and Germany too, for their trials against the pirates. It’s clear to me that the South Koreans have offered the best lesson for these modern buccaneers; what the U.S. Navy would have called a “whiff of grapeshot” in days of old. The Koreans were firm, focused and tough; the pirates learned an overdue lesson."
The South Korean ship captain is in critical condition from being shot in the stomach, though who is responsible for pulling the trigger is still being investigated.
Should the men awaiting trial be charged to the fullest extent or were they simply following the orders of their boss? This is currently the public debate in the domestic media there.
Seven Somali pirates are also awaiting trial in Malaysia. The worlds of Africa and Asia have only been melding more and more, but the piracy issue is certainly one of the more dramatic and divisive ways these cultures will get to know one another. (Cue "Black and Yellow"...)
Photo courtesy of European Pressphoto Agency.