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Prime Minister to resign to take responsibility for ferry accident

Prime Minister to resign to take responsibility for ferry accident

Posted April. 28, 2014 06:42,   


Prime Minister Chung Hong-won offered to resign on Sunday, 11 days after the sinking of the Sewol ferry, which put all of the Korean people in despair. However, President Park Geun-hye has not accepted the resignation yet. Min Gyeong-uk, a spokesperson for the President’s Office said, “The president thinks that it is desirable to accept (his resignation) after dealing with the accident because what is the most urgent right now is to conduct rescue activities and deal with the accident.” This is interpreted that the president will accept the prime minister’s resignation probably when the collection of dead bodies of victims is completed and the sunken ferry is salvaged. Even if his resignation is processed before the Jun. 4 local elections, the replacement of other ministers who should be held responsible for the accident is likely to be postponed after the local elections.

The prime minister said in the press conference held on Sunday morning, “I want to apologize on behalf of the government for a series of problems from preventive steps to the government’s initial response and follow-up measures (for the accident.)” He also added, “I felt the right thing for me to do was to take all responsibility as the prime minister who leads the Cabinet… I have decided to resign because I can’t lay a burden on administering state affairs by holding this position.”

Because the president has directed “conditional acceptance of the resignation,” Prime Minister Chung will focus on handing the accident for the time being. President Park ordered three things to the Prime Minister’s Office in a meeting with senior secretaries on April 21, which are the establishment of strong control tower for disaster response, the overall inspection of safety policies and risk management abilities and the elimination of public servants with apathetic attitudes to save their positions.

After the announcement of Chung’s resignation, President Park is expected to embark on activities to settle the public sentiment. On the Cabinet meeting on Apr. 29, she is likely to develop basic measures to change the fundamentals of bureaucratic society that has been so incompetent in responding to the accident.