South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won announced his resignation on Sunday following criticism over the government’s handling of the ferry disaster earlier this month that left more than 300 people dead or missing.
Authorities have come under fire for lax safety regulations, slow pace of rescue and recovery efforts and for frequent changes in the information they provided in the aftermath of the incident.
On April 16, a ferry sank on a routine trip south from the port of Incheon to the traditional holiday island of Jeju, in one of the deadliest maritime disasters in South Korea’s history.
A majority of the people dead or missing were students and teachers on a field trip from the Danwon High School on the outskirts of Seoul.
Chung’s resignation was approved by President Park Geun-hye, although her spokesman said later that he would remain in post until the rescue operation is completed, Reuters reported.
“Keeping my post is too great a burden on the administration,” Chung was quoted as saying in a brief announcement. “…On behalf of the government, I apologize for many problems from the prevention of the accident to the early handling of the disaster.
“There are too many irregularities and malpractices in parts of society that have been with us too long and I hope those are corrected so that accidents like this will not happen again.”
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