Skip to main content

South Korean president apologizes for response to ferry sinking

By Andrew Stevens, Steven Jiang and Holly Yan, CNN
April 29, 2014 -- Updated 2236 GMT (0636 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • South Korean President apologizes for "insufficiency in efforts made to prevent the accident"
  • She also apologizes for the initial response to the ferry sinking
  • "We'll fix the problems and change our practices," Park Geun-hye says

Seoul, South Korea (CNN) -- The web of blame in the South Korean ferry sinking is getting wider, and now the country's president is accepting some of the heat.

President Park Geun-hye apologized to the nation Tuesday over the government's initial response to the Sewol ferry tragedy.

"I am losing sleep as there is no news about saving more lives and because there are many families who don't know whether their loved ones are dead or alive still," the president said.

South Korean Prime Minister resigns
Shoes believed to belong to the missing and the deceased are on display at the harbor. Shoes believed to belong to the missing and the deceased are on display at the harbor.
South Korean ferry sinks
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Photos: South Korean ferry sinks Photos: South Korean ferry sinks
First ship on scene saw no evacuation
Confusion, anger after ferry disaster

"I am at a loss for words for an apology that can be enough to console the pain and suffering even for a little while over insufficiency in efforts made to prevent the accident and also in the initial response to the accident," she added.

"I am sorry, and my heart is heavy that so many precious lives are lost because of the accident."

Videos capturing ferry's final moments fuel fresh outrage over ship's fate

Earlier Tuesday, Park attended a memorial in Ansan, the Seoul suburb where hundreds of students on board the ship were from. She talked to family members and laid flowers at the memorial site.

"We'll fix the problems and change our practices so we'll have safer nation and won't let them die in vain," Park said.

The ferry sank April 16 on the country's southwest coast. The number of dead now stands at 210. Another 92 are still missing.

"All we are asking for is, 'Bring the dead bodies out,'" a father wailed Tuesday. "We know they are not alive now."

Images of ferry captain abandoning ship are shocking

On Monday, South Korean authorities arrested three people on suspicion of destroying evidence connected to the ferry sinking. Investigators also raided a Coast Guard office in a probe of how officials handled the first emergency call from a passenger.

The director and two other people with the Korea Shipping Association's Incheon office were arrested and accused of destroying evidence related to the probe of Chonghaejin, the company that owns the ferry.

The Korea Shipping Association is a trade group that promotes the interests of the country's shipping industry.

The site raided was the Coast Guard building in Mokpo, which includes the South Jeolla province emergency center -- a facility that provides 119 services, akin to the 911 emergency service in the United States.

Investigators are looking into possible dereliction of duty.

Ferry disaster's toll on South Korea's national psyche

CNN's Stella Kim and Nic Robertson contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 0402 GMT (1202 HKT)
South Korean forensics officials say they are sure the body found in a field last month is Yoo Byung Eun.
June 11, 2014 -- Updated 0939 GMT (1739 HKT)
The trial of the captain and crew began, with the accused facing the families of the victims.
May 29, 2014 -- Updated 0252 GMT (1052 HKT)
South Korea's most wanted man, who is believed to have ties to the company that operated the ill-fated Sewol ferry, has eluded arrest for weeks.
May 19, 2014 -- Updated 1909 GMT (0309 HKT)
South Korea's President apologized for a ferry disaster that killed close to 300 people and said she would dismantle the country's coast guard.
May 16, 2014 -- Updated 0323 GMT (1123 HKT)
Here are 7 major factors that contributed to the ship's sinking.
April 30, 2014 -- Updated 1721 GMT (0121 HKT)
The words and images from the cell phone of a girl who perished on the South Korean ferry convey the rising panic aboard.
May 14, 2014 -- Updated 0556 GMT (1356 HKT)
In one video, the captain of the sinking South Korean ferry scrambles to safety. In another, stranded passengers panic.
April 27, 2014 -- Updated 1456 GMT (2256 HKT)
As the death toll from the ferry disaster continues to rise, yellow ribbons have evolved into a national sign of grief.
April 27, 2014 -- Updated 1452 GMT (2252 HKT)
Choi Duk-Ha, 17, is credited for saving the lives of many on the ferry. He later died and is now hailed as a hero.
April 28, 2014 -- Updated 1931 GMT (0331 HKT)
CNN's Nic Robertson reports on the rising anger as South Koreans learn more about the final moments of the doomed vessel.
April 24, 2014 -- Updated 0314 GMT (1114 HKT)
CNN's Erin Burnett talks to Ship stability expert Paul Roden about whether the cargo lead to the ferry disaster.
April 25, 2014 -- Updated 1606 GMT (0006 HKT)
South Korea is not only a nation in mourning, but also a country overwhelmed with guilt. CNN's Paula Hancocks reports.
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 1915 GMT (0315 HKT)
Park Jee Young, 22, helped passengers escape and distributed life jackets as the stricken ferry began to sink, refusing to wear one herself. It cost her life.
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 1104 GMT (1904 HKT)
Such bravery has been conspicuously absent from two major maritime disasters in recent times.
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1148 GMT (1948 HKT)
South Korean students remember their vice principal, who took his own life after the ferry sinking.
April 19, 2014 -- Updated 1930 GMT (0330 HKT)
The captain of the sunken South Korean ferry is defending his actions as rescuers continue the search for survivors.
April 20, 2014 -- Updated 0201 GMT (1001 HKT)
CNN's Kyung Lah reports on suicide in South Korea following news of a capsized ferry.
ADVERTISEMENT