SEOUL- South Korean President Park Geun-Hye apologized Tuesday for her government’s failure to combat systemic and regulatory “evils” blamed for the loss of about 300 lives in a ferry disaster.
Two days after her prime minister resigned over the tragedy, Park’s comments are another attempt to defuse growing public anger about the April 16 sinking of the 6,825-tonne Sewol.
“I don’t know how to apologize for the failure to prevent this accident, and for the insufficient first response,” Park said in a statement to her cabinet that was broadcast on national television.
“I am sorry to the people and heavy-hearted that many precious lives were lost.”
Park’s government has been widely criticized over perceived corruption and lax safety standards that may have led to the disaster, with claims that the ferry was overloaded and that the passenger list was inaccurate and incomplete.
Echoing words used by Prime Minister Chung Hong-Won when he fell on his sword on Sunday, Park blamed systemic and regulatory failings for one of South Korea’s worst ever maritime tragedies.
“I feel so regretful for having been unable to correct such long-running evils and letting an accident like this take place,” she said.
Park accepted Chung’s resignation but ordered him to remain in office until the recovery operation was completed.