South Korea's President Wants To Disband Its Coast Guard

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In a speech today, South Korea president Park Geun-hye said she wanted to disband her country's coast guard in the wake of the ferry disaster that killed more than 300 people.

The Sewol ferry sank last month, with many of its passengers -- most of them students -- trapped inside. As reported by the AP, Park said "The coast guard's rescue operations were virtually a failure."

Per CNN, she added: 

After serious consideration, I've decided to dismantle the coast guard. 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.

Basically, she wants to create something a lot like the coast guard, but not the coast guard, because everyone is mad at the coast guard for its slow and inept response to the ferry's sinking. According to the New York Times, the first coast guard boats to arrive at the sinking ship saved its crew, but "made little effort to reach the trapped students." The sinking is one of the deadliest peacetime disasters in the country's history.

Park also offered her apologies, saying: "The ultimate responsibility lies with me."

Many would agree with that. Just this weekend, there was yet another protest by families of the victims and their supporters against Park and her government's poor handling of the disaster.

Last week, the ferry's captain, chief engineer, first mate and second mate were charged with manslaughter, while 11 other surviving crew members were charged with negligence.


This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.