The government said Thursday it will seek to permanently remove the operator of the sunken ferry Sewol from the related industry.
The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said it will revoke the operation license of Chonghaejin Marine Co. for its Incheon-Jeju Island route following the deadly sinking of a ferry en route to the southern resort island on April 16.
The ministry said it will also press the company to voluntarily give up its operation license for two other routes -- between Incheon and western Baengnyeong Island and the other service between Yeosu and Geomun Island.
An investigation of the accident, still ongoing, has found numerous regulation violations by Chonghaejin Marine, including cargo overload and skipped or shoddy safety inspections. Nearly 270 passengers, most of them high school students who were on a field trip, have died while 35 remained missing as of Thursday.
"The ministry has repeatedly made clear of its plan to revoke the operation license of Chonghaejin Marine Co.," it said in a press release.
It earlier planned to take the administrative measure after the prosecution completes its ongoing investigation but decided to begin the process as it has been "clearly revealed that such a large death toll was caused partly by shameless acts of the ship's captain and other crew members," it added.
All 15 crew members of the Sewol who survived the tragic accident have been arrested for abandoning the ship, leaving hundreds of passengers trapped inside the sinking ship. The head of Chonghaejin Marine was arrested earlier in the day on charges of involuntary manslaughter.
A ministry official said it may take up to 10 days before the licensing agency can revoke Chonghaejin's operation permit as the law requires a 10-day hearing period. (Yonhap)