Geum Yi

Government officials keep on losing their jobs for inappropriate remark, action

April 22, 2014

MOKPO, South Korea, April 22 (Yonhap) — A South Korean coast guard official was relieved of his duties on Tuesday for comments deemed insensitive to the grieving families of the victims of the Sewol ferry disaster.

The official allegedly told reporters last week that “Just what was it that our coast guard did wrong? If we saved 80 people, isn’t that a great job we did?”

He made the comments when asked if the coast guard had poorly handled the rescue operation.

The official in the southwestern port city of Mokpo was not immediately available for comment.

The coast guard’s move came a day after the government accepted the resignation of a senior official who came under fire for trying to have a commemorative group photo taken in front of families of the victims.

The latest move underscored concern that any misstep by public officials could further worsen negative public sentiment about the government’s handling of one of the country’s worst peacetime disasters.

The 6,825-ton ferry Sewol capsized and sank off Jindo on Wednesday, with 476 people aboard, mostly high school students on a school excursion. Only 174 people, including the ship’s captain and many of its two dozen crewmen, were rescued before the vessel sank.

As of Tuesday night, 121 people have been confirmed dead, while 181 others are still unaccounted for as hopes have all but vanished that any passengers could be found alive.