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After Disaster, S. Korea Breaks Up Coast Guard

President apologizes to the nation for failed rescue
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 19, 2014 12:56 AM CDT
After Disaster, S. Korea Breaks Up Coast Guard
Passengers at a Seoul train station watch South Korean President Park Geun-hye's speech to the nation.   (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

(Newser) – The response of South Korea's coast guard to the sinking of the Sewol ferry was so flawed that the force needs to be disbanded, the county's president has decided. In a televised address to the nation, Park Guen-hye slammed the coast guard for failing "in its duty to carry out the rescue operation" after the disaster that killed almost 300 people, but said "the final responsibility for not being able to respond properly lies on me," CNN reports.

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The coast guard's "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," Park explained, adding that in its current form, the coast guard would be incapable of preventing another large-scale disaster. Park—whose popularity has dived from 70% to 46% since the disaster—also promised to bring in sweeping reforms to improve oversight of the shipping industry, reports Reuters. All 15 of the Sewol's surviving crew members have been indicted on criminal charges, with the captain and three others charged with murder. (Read more South Korea stories.)

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