President Park Geun-hye on Monday morning apologized to the people for the government’s failed operation to save hundreds of passengers of the sunken ferry, holding herself responsible for the disaster.
The president, in her tearful speech, said she will carry out a series of sweeping reforms to improve the country’s safety standards and develop a new state emergency system in order to prevent further disasters like the Sewol. As part of her drastic reform measures, President Park said she will disband the Coast Guard for its failed rescue mission.
“As president (I am) responsible for the people’s lives and safety, and I offer a heartfelt apology for the pain the people have suffered,” Park said during her nationally televised address. “The ultimate responsibility for failing to respond properly to this accident lies with me.”
President Park Geun-hye sheds tears as she on Monday delivers an apology for the government`s lax response to the ferry disaster. (Yonhap)
The president also vowed to crack down on businesses suspected to pose a threat to customers’ safety, like Chonghaejin Marine Co., the ill-fated ferry’s operator, and put an end to corrupt ties between government officials and businessmen in related industries.
Park’s speech came 34 days after the ferry Sewol sank off the country’s southwestern coast on April 16. The disaster left more than 300 dead or missing.
The president apologized to the people for the government’s poor response since late last month. But she has been under escalating public criticism for apologizing in a manner that is perceived as informal and reluctant.
The Sewol tragedy has put Park’s leadership into question, and her approval rating has dived from 60 percent to slightly over 40 percent, the lowest since she took office last year.
President Park Geun-hye bows after finishing her apologetic speech at Cheong Wa Dae on Monday. (Yonhap)