Updated August. 09, 2014 03:48
Minister of Ocean and Fisheries Lee Ju-young was reported on Friday to have resolved to voluntarily step down, taking responsibility for the Sewol ferry tragedy. He had been re-named to the second Cabinet in the Park Geun-hye administration in July. For nearly four months since the Sewol ferry sinking, Lee has been staying near the site of the incident in Paengmok Port, Jindo-gun, South Jeolla province, and directing the search for missing persons. It appears Lee will once again tender his resignation after the incident followup wraps.
Even after being retained, Lee is said to have said multiple times to the Presidential Office that it is the right thing to do to take responsibility and resign after completely taking care of all measures required by the sinking. The timing of the resignation is estimated to be mid-September. This appears to take into consideration the almost completion of the search in the Sewol ferry and the Chuseok holidays in early September.
Lee said on July 13 in a news release that when the incident is taken care of, he will act accordingly as called for by responsibility he needed to take. However, there is the likelihood of Lees stepping down being postponed when the bereaved families strongly demand that Lee must stand by his post until all of the missing 10 bodies are recovered.
Lee is also known to be mulling whether to participate in the China-Japan-Korea Ministerial Conference on Transport and Logistics scheduled to be held in Japan on August 25. With Saenuri Party leader Kim Moo-sung openly requesting on August 6 the return to normal operations by Lee, who had been elected to the National Assembly four times, it would be protocol to attend the international conference if only for national gain, but Lee appears to be concerned that his attending could result in a hitch in the search for missing victims.
In the event Lee leaves for the conference, it appears Lee will meet with the bereaved families and ask their understanding before his departure. In that case, the Ministry is reviewing have Vice Minister staying at Paengmok Port instead.