South Korea Prime Minister Apologizes and Resigns

South Korea Prime Minister Chung Hong-won has resigned, taking responsibility for issues associated with the ferry that sank. More than 300 people died, mostly high school students. In his resignation speech, the PM said that resigning was "the right thing to do" and apologized for "many problems, from the prevention of the accident to the early handling of the accident (BBC translation)." Initially, families were told that everyone had been rescued.

Critics say that the prime minister is a figure head and that President Park Geun-hye should take the fall. The opposing party called the resignation a "cowardly evasion of responsibility" and called for the president to apologize.

A professor of political science and diplomacy at Myongji University in Seoul said the incident will not likely affect the upcoming election in June. Shin Yul said that the resignation "may tip the scales a bit, but in terms of the elections, this incident has been unfavorable to both parties because voters are angry with all public figures."

Discussion Starters:

  • What's your view of the resignation? Was it the right thing to do, only a symbolic gesture, an act of scapegoating, or something else?
  • As you might expect, President Park Geun-hye accepted Chun's apology. What else, if anything, should she do?