S. Korea Prime Minister Offers Resignation Over Ferry Sinking
South Korea's prime minister says he will resign over the ferry disaster that left more than 300 people dead or missing — and left the victims' families in anguish for days, as fruitless rescue attempts were made.
Chung Hong-won also apologized to a country increasingly angry over the handling of the sinking and for lax regulatory enforcement that authorities say contributed to the accident.
The New York Times reported:
"A somber-looking Mr. Chung accepted the criticism on Sunday when he offered 'an apology to the people' during a nationally televised news conference. 'When I saw the people's sadness and fury, I thought it was natural for me to step down with an apology,' he said."
"During the search process, the government took inadequate measures and disappointed the public," Chung said, according to CNN. "I should take responsibility for everything as the prime minister, but the government can assume no more. So I will resign as prime minister."
Power in the South Korean political system is held mainly by the president, Park Geun-hye, so this resignation is more symbolic, the Associated Press reported. The AP reports a presidential spokesperson has said Park will accept the resignation.
"Chung was heckled by relatives and his car was blocked when he visited a shelter on an island near the site of the sinking a week ago," the AP said.
The ferry Sewol sank off the southwest coast of the Korean peninsula on April 16. Most of the 476 people on board were high school students on their way to a resort island. The cause of the disaster is still under investigation.