Leviathan for Sale: Maritime Police Privatization, Bureaucratic Corruption, and the Sewol Disaster
By Choi, K., & Porteux, J.
Journal of East Asian Studies
Abstract: We argue that the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster in South Korea, in which 304 passengers perished, was a result of the mode and process of privatization of South Korea’s maritime police and rescue services. Through the development of a nuanced theory of privatization and use of a novel conceptualization of corruption, coupled with empirical analysis, our study shows that the outcome was symptomatic of a wider trend of systematic bureaucratic rent-seeking. A pro-active private sector ready to capitalize on the opportunity, in conjunction with a permissive political environment, resulted in a reduction of state capacity, with devastating consequences.