Prime Minister Chung Hong-won offers to resign over ferry disaster

April 28, 2014
Families of the missing watch a news conference of Prime Minister Chung Hong-won at their temporary shelter in Jindo County, South Jeolla Province, Sunday. Chung offered to resign to take responsibility for the government’s incompetence in coping with the sinking of the ferry Sewol. President Park Geun-hye said she will accept Chung’s resignation after all situations involving the accident are resolved. / Korea Times photo by Sohn Yong-seok

Families of the missing watch a news conference of Prime Minister Chung Hong-won at their temporary shelter in Jindo County, South Jeolla Province, Sunday. Chung offered to resign to take responsibility for the government’s incompetence in coping with the sinking of the ferry Sewol.
/ Korea Times photo by Sohn Yong-seok

South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won offered his resignation Sunday, holding himself responsible for the government’s poor response to the deadly sinking of a ferry that has left nearly 300 people dead or missing.

“The right thing for me to do is to take responsibility and resign,” Chung said at a press conference 11 days after one of the country’s worst maritime disasters.

However, the announcement was met with much criticism.

“An executive power is largely concentrated in the president, so Chung Hong-won’s resignation appears to be symbolic,” an Associated Press article noted.

Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo, co-chairman of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), criticized Chung’s action as “cowardly and irresponsible,” saying that President Park Geun-hye should be the one apologizing to the nation.

Park later decided to accept Prime Minister Chung’s resignation, but her spokesman said that Chung would remain in his post until the rescue operation has been completed.

The father of a missing ferry passenger called Chung’s resignation “meaningless,” CNN reported.  Another parent told a CNN reporter that if Park were to resign, “that might actually do something.”

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