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South Korea Ferry Disaster: Prime Minister Resigns

    April 27, 2014
    Toni Matthews-El
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The prime minister of South Korea resigned on Sunday.

The act comes amid a growing wave of criticism heaved at the Korean government over its handling of the Sewol incident and subsequent rescue efforts.

Former Prime Minister Chung Hong-won said in a statement that the rising tide of “sadness and resentment of the public” played a major role in his decision to step down.

When Chung attempted to visit a shelter housing the family members of the ferry victims, he found himself heckled by a number of bystanders. The negative reception left a lasting impression on the government official.

“…I saw grieving families suffering with the pain of losing their loved one,” said Chung.

He felt that he should “take all responsibility as prime minister” for his role in the government’s reportedly insufficient rescue efforts.

Chung also blamed societal issues for the ongoing tragedy, saying that he hoped “these deep-rooted evils” would be removed from South Korean society and that this “kind of accident never happens again.”

Because the majority of political power in South Korea resides with the president, it seems that the decision of the prime minister to resign is largely symbolic in nature. Min Kyung-woo, who is the presidential spokesman, was reported as saying President Park Geun-hye will likely accept Chung’s resignation.

It is not known at this time when Chung will leave office.

In the aftermath of the Sewol ferry sinking, heartbroken friends and family members of those who died or are still missing have become increasingly angered at the government’s response to the disaster.

Thus far divers have retrieved 188 bodies from the waters surrounding the Sewol or directly from vessel. 114 persons are still missing. There are only 174 survivors at this time, and it’s unlikely any more will be recovered from the sunken ferry.

All 15 crew members involved in the sinking of the ship have been taken into custody and formally arrested. They stand accused of negligence and failing to help passengers in need.

Image via Wikimedia Commons