South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won Offers to Resigns Over Ferry Incident, Blames Self for Response
Following the devastating ferry crash in South Korea, most of the blame had been directed at the ship's captain and crew, who left the sinking ship prior to ensuring the safety of those aboard. But Prime Minister Chung Hong-won is now diverting blame to himself. The South Korean Prime Minister offered to resign on national television Sunday, claiming that he was responsible for the response to the accident. Said Chung on television:
During the search process, the government took inadequate measures and disappointed the public. I should take responsibility for everything as the Prime Minister, but the government can assume no more. So I will resign as Prime Minister.
When I saw the people’s sadness and fury, I thought it was natural for me to step down with an apology.
The accident, which occurred April 16, left much of the country in grief and relatives of victims angry that the government didn't do enough to guarantee family members' safety — as of Saturday morning, 187 of those on board were confirmed dead, with 115 people still missing. The incident was made even more tragic with the news that a total of 323 high school students were also on board the ferry, with dozens still missing. And in the 10 days following the incident, there has been no shortage of grisly and troubling details about the crash.
The captain of the ferry, Captain Lee Joon-seok, and several of his crew were arrested earlier this week for their failures to act up to code, with prosecutors claiming their actions were akin to "an act of murder." Not only did the crew abandon ship prior to its passengers, but authorities also say the captain wasn't steering the ship at the time of the accident, and the crew told passengers to stay put after the ship began tilting. Said President Park Geun-hye about the crew's actions:
The captain did not comply with passenger evacuation orders from the vessel traffic service… and escaped ahead of others while telling passengers to keep their seats. This is something that is never imaginable legally or ethically ... Above all, the conduct of the captain and some crew members is unfathomable from the viewpoint of common sense, and it was like an act of murder that cannot and should not be tolerated.
There is no word on whether or not Park has accepted Chung's resignation. Meanwhile, the search for the remaining missing passengers continues.