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Tearful President: South Korea To Disband Coast Guard

President Park Guen-hye cried Monday as she vowed to disband the South Korea's coast guard, which she says failed in the Sewol ferry disaster.
Posted at 9:21 AM, May 19, 2014

Just days after the release of transcripts detailing the South Korean coast guard's response to the Sewol ferry disaster, the president announced in a tearful apology  she'll dismantle the guard.

PARK GEUN-HYE, SOUTH KOREA PRESIDENT: "The coast guard failed in its duty to carry out the rescue operation. ... Since it was created, it's concentrated on investigation and external growth and has neglected search and rescue tasks." (Via CNN)

South Korea's coast guard has been intensely scrutinized since the mid-April sinking, which left 286 dead with 18 more missing and presumed dead. The vast majority were high school students on a field trip. (Via Euronews)

The New York Times reports transcripts show the first coast guard boats on scene were repeatedly told to try to reach passengers trapped inside, but crews said the ship was already listed too severely to board.

Only stoking the outrage, a video released by the coast guard showed Sewol's captain jumping from the ship while hundreds were still trapped on board. (Via RT)

President Park Geun-hye also criticized a widespread system of cronyism she said helped cause the disaster.

South Korea has long had a tradition of retiring government officials getting hired to easy positions at private companies they used to regulate. (Via Arirang)

Noting a lobby group for the shipping industry ruled the ferry safe to sail despite being overloaded, Park said, "This accident showed how big a calamity can be brought about by the abnormal practice of collusion between the government and civilians and the deep-rooted culture of putting personal and other relations ahead of official duties."

It seems much of the media's attention isn't just on what Park said, but how she said it.

Many outlets latched onto the tears Park had as she read off names of passengers and crew who died trying to save others. The president had been criticized for previous apologies that didn't seem to accept full responsibility. (Via Sky News)

PARK: "I could not sleep properly for the last few days in anguish thinking of the terrible pain of many students who have not bloomed yet." (Via BBC)

Park said the coast guard will either be dissolved into the national police force or a new safety agency she plans to create to better respond to disasters.