K.J. Kwon, Paula Hancocks and Jethro Mullen report for CNN:
South Korea’s President made an emotional apology Monday over the ferry disaster that killed close to 300 people last month and said she would dismantle the country’s coast guard.
“As the President who should be responsible for people’s life and security, I am sincerely apologizing to the people for having to suffer pain,” said President Park Geun-hye in a televised speech. “The final responsibility for not being able to respond properly lies on me.”
The Sewol ferry sank en route to the resort island of Jeju on April 16, leaving more than 304 people dead or missing. Most of the passengers were high school students on a field trip.
“As a President, I feel a sense of sorrow for not being able to protect them during their family trip,” said Park, whose approval ratings have dropped significantly in the weeks since the sinking.
The Sewol disaster caused widespread outrage in South Korea over lax safety standards and the failure to rescue more people as the ship foundered.
“After serious consideration, I’ve decided to dismantle the coast guard,” Park said. “The investigation and information roles will be transferred to the police while the rescue and salvage operation and ocean security roles will be transferred to the department for national safety which will be newly established.”