Geum Yi

Former S. Korean Prime Minister hopes for healing in wake of ferry tragedy

April 22, 2014

At the Korea Times sponsored event held in UCLA, Chung Un-chan says:
“We have to try to go back to the normal as soon as possible.”

(Park Sang-hyuk)

Speaking at UCLA, former Prime Minister of South Korea Chung Un-chan, middle, covered several issues. (Park Sang-hyuk)

(CNS) -  A former South Korean prime minister visiting UCLA said Tuesday he is hopeful for healing in his country as anger mounts over the deaths of passengers aboard a sunken South Korean ferry boat.

Chung Un-chan, who was prime minister from 2009-2010 in the Republic of Korea, said Koreans are discouraged by the accident, calling it a “nightmare.”

“We have to try to go back to the normal as soon as possible,” Chung said at following an event at the UCLA International Institute’s Center for Korean Studies.

One hundred eighty-one passengers, many of them high school students, remain missing, according to media reports. One hundred twenty-one people have been confirmed dead, with efforts underway to recover the bodies of those trapped inside the vessel.

Most of the more than 400 passengers on board were students at Danwon High School in a town south of Seoul.

Anger has been mounting in South Korea over the chaos in the moments the ferry sunk off South Korea’s southwest coast. A radio transcript released by Korean authorities showed passengers could not reach lifeboats because the ship capsized so quickly.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye compared the actions of the captain and some crew to murder, CNN reported.

The captain, Lee Joon-seok, is facing criminal charges and several other members of the crew were also arrested.