South Korea PM quits over mishandling ferry tragedy, President accepts resignation

By Supriya Jha | Last Updated: Monday, April 28, 2014 - 00:48

Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha

Seoul: Taking responsibility for the ferry sinking tragedy`s mishandling, South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won on Sunday offered his resignation, 11 days after the deadly ferry disaster in which 187 have been confirmed killed so far and more than a hundred remain unaccounted for.

President Park Geun-hye accepted her prime minister`s resignation but did not set a last day for him in office. The PM would leave his post once the ferry disaster was under control

Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, the PM also offered an apology to the families of the victims "for the mishandling of a slew of problems, from preventive measures before the accident to the government`s initial response and follow-up steps over the accident."

Saying that the cries of the kins of those missing still didn`t let him sleep at night, he said, "Witnessing the pains of families of the victims and grief and anger of the people, I think the right thing for me to do is to take all responsibility and resign".

Justifying his resignation, he said that staying as the PM will only be a burden to the administration.

"I`ve learned bitterly that our society has many longstanding corruption and wrongful practices. I hope we can take this tragedy as a chance to resolve such problems to prevent a recurrence of this kind of accident."

He further urged the divers to "do their best to find the missing at the scene," calling for the nation to remain united in face of such a tragedy.

The families have lambasted the government for an initial slow response to the tragedy, and giving wrong information about the number of people on board.

The resignation of the PM, who is second-in-command, comes 11 days after ferry Sewol sank off Jindo Island, with 476 people on board.

The opposition party has slammed the PM`s decision and also asked for an apology from the President.
According to Yonhap news agency, Ahn Cheol-soo, co-leader of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), said the president should show a sense of responsibility for the accident.

"His offer to resign alone at this critical juncture is an utterly irresponsible act and a cowardly attempt to evade the situation," said Ahn Cheol-soo.

"The prime minister and the Cabinet must first put their full efforts to manage the situation. The responsible attitude is to then apologize to the people and act according to their wishes," he said.

Meanwhile, the divers are still looking for passengers as 115 remain missing despite 187 bodies found so far.
On April 16, the 6,825-ton Sewol sank on its way to the southern resort island of Jeju from Incheon, west of Seoul. Of 476 people on board, only 174 had been rescued. The crew members` act has drawn immense flak as they were the first ones to flee, including the captain who has been detained with others.



First Published: Sunday, April 27, 2014 - 11:56

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