World
KUTV.com | Stories - S. Korea's President Vows to Disband Coast Guard
Monday, May 19 2014, 04:34 PM MDT
S. Korea's President Vows to Disband Coast Guard
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea's president announced plans Monday to disband the coast guard and root out corruption and collusion between regulators and shipping companies that furious citizens believe led to a ferry disaster last month that left more than 300 people dead or missing.

President Park Geun-hye's first televised address to the nation since the April 16 sinking began with a deep bow and ended with her tearfully reading the names of passengers and crew who died trying to save others. With her approval ratings plummeting ahead of mayoral and governor elections in about two weeks, the speech sought to acknowledge widespread anger over government failures as well as chart a path forward.

Most of the victims were students from a single high school near Seoul who were traveling to the southern tourist island of Jeju.

"We failed to rescue students who we could have saved," Park said. "The ultimate responsibility for not properly dealing with this incident is mine."

Park has apologized before, but critics have called for her to formally address the nation and respond to claims that incompetence, corruption and bad leadership doomed the ferry and those trapped inside it. In Monday's speech, Park decried the accumulation of "widespread abnormal practices" that she said triggered the sinking.

A focus was the coast guard, which has been under growing public criticism over allegations of poor coordination and slow search-and-rescue work during the initial stages of the sinking.

Park called the coast guard's rescue operations a failure and said she would push for legislation that would transfer its responsibilities to the National Police Agency and a new government safety agency she plans to establish.

She said the new agency would also take over maritime traffic controlling responsibilities, currently held by the Ocean Ministry, and safety and security responsibilities, held by the Ministry of Security and Public Administration.

Park Kwang-on, a spokesman for the main opposition party, said the plan to disband the coast guard gives the impression that the government is shifting all the responsibility for the sinking to the coast guard.

"The diagnosis (of the problem) is insufficient and the remedy is inadequate," he said.

The president's plans require parliamentary approval, according to her office.

Park said she would also push for separate legislation aimed at rooting out collusive and corrupt ties between bureaucrats and civilian sectors, something seen by many as a reason for the sinking. Park said retired officials have a tradition of working at the Korea Shipping Association, which oversees safety issues of ships.

The disaster has prompted soul-searching about the nation's neglect of safety as it built Asia's fourth-biggest economy from the ashes of the 1950-53 Korean War.

The tragedy exposed regulatory failures that appear to have allowed the ferry to set off with far more cargo than it could safely carry.

Park's speech may grate with her major political backers in the business community who may have little interest in a major anti-corruption push, according to Robert Kelly, a political scientist at Pusan National University in South Korea.

He called it "gutsy" that she explicitly targeted collusion and the "bureaucratic mafia."

"Let's see if she has the determination to see it through and push some serious prosecutions," Kelly wrote in an email.

More than one month after the sinking, 286 bodies have been retrieved but 18 others are still missing. Some 172 people, including 22 of the ship's 29 crew members, survived.

Prosecutors last week indicted 15 crew members tasked with navigating the ship, four on homicide charges.

The ship's captain, Capt. Lee Joon-seok, initially told passengers to stay in their cabins and took about half an hour to issue an evacuation order, but it's not known if his message was ever conveyed to passengers.

The head of the company that operates the ferry, Chonghaejin Marine Co. Ltd., and four other company employees have also been arrested. Authorities suspect improper stowage and overloading of cargo may have contributed to the disaster.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.












S. Korea's President Vows to Disband Coast Guard

News Photos & Videos - Submit Your Photos Here


More World Stories

UK raises terror threat level, citing Syria, Iraq risk
NATO chief slams Moscow's 'hollow denials' of Ukraine aggression
Death toll passes 1,550 as Ebola outbreak accelerates, officials say
Police: Body found in Israeli forest is missing American hiker
U.S. official says 1,000 Russian troops enter Ukraine
Many Indians turning to meat as their wallets grow fatter
Inarritu's 'Birdman' opens Venice Film Festival
Indian woman, armed only with farm tool, fights off leopard
Annual tomato battle leaves Spanish town red
Germany plans to tighten EU migration rules
3rd doctor dies from Ebola in Sierra Leone
UN panel: Crimes against humanity spread in Syria
North Korea calls US 'graveyard of human rights'
Experts find 283 DNA samples from MH17 site
Scottish businesses: no case for independence
Muslims react with outrage at UK sex abuse report
Putin sits down with Ukrainian president for talks
UN health agency: E-cigarettes must be regulated
Liberian ministers who defied Ebola order fired
China investigating managers at VW joint venture
UN envoy opposes foreign intervention in Libya
US health official: Ebola has 'upper hand'
Moose shows up at German office canteen
American held in Syria freed after nearly 2 years
Britain close to identifying James Foley's killer, ambassador says
Dempsey: We will act if Islamic group threatens US
Large 7.0 earthquake reported in central Peru
Foley describes captivity in letter to family
American held in Syria for almost two years is released
Actor-director Richard Attenborough dies
China executes Tiananmen Square attack 'masterminds'
Republicans urge airstrikes in Syria to defeat ISIS
Iran says Iraq able to fight militants alone
Iran says it downs Israeli drone near nuclear site
Official: British Ebola patient to be evacuated
Official: 3 killed in failed Afghan prison break
18 bodies found as Italy rescues 3,500 migrants
2 small planes collide over Switzerland, 7 injured
35 Nigerian police officers missing after insurgent attack
China says US plane intercept was professional
Ivory Coast closing borders in response to Ebola outbreak
US Geological Survey: 6.4 earthquake in Chile
Mexico blasts Perry comments about Islamists
U.N.: 'Unspeakable' suffering in Iraq town besieged by ISIS fighters
Alert raised in Iceland after sub-glacial eruption
Pentagon chief: ISIS 'beyond anything we have seen'
Hamas urges Palestinian leadership to seek ICC justice
Russia: Humanitarian aid was delivered in Ukraine
Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano rumbles, could threaten air travel
Hamas leader says group kidnapped Israeli teens in West Bank in June
Saudi court sentences 18 to prison for terrorism
Flights to Libya canceled amid militia fighting
Report: James Foley's captors originally asked for huge ransom
36 dead, 7 missing in Hiroshima landslides
US official: More airstrikes in Iraq
Afghanistan orders New York Times reporter to leave the country over his election story
Lawyer says arrested Americans under suicide watch
US warns that Venezuela is losing airline access
Pakistan's army chief wants mass protests settled
UAE ruler approves sweeping counter-terrorism law
Advertise with us!


 

Pay It Forward
Fresh Living
Family Matters
Road Trippin
Hooked On Utah

Advertise with us!