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South Korea's Prime Minister Resigns Over Ferry Disaster Response

Chung Hong-won, the country's No. 2 ranking official, announced his immediate resignation on national television, and apologized for the government's response to the ferry disaster that left more than 300 missing or dead.

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Updated — 10:55 a.m. ET

Offering "an apology to the people," South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won announced he is resigning in the wake of the ferry disaster earlier this month that left more than 300 people dead or missing.

Presidential spokesman Min Kyung-wook told the Associated Press that President Park Geun-hye would accept the resignation.

There has been criticism over the pace of the recovery and complaints that the government has provided the public with conflicting information about the disaster.

"During the search process, the government took inadequate measures and disappointed the public," Chung said during a televised speech broadcast Sunday morning in South Korea. "I should take responsibility for everything as the prime minister, but the government can assume no more."

The 6,825-ton Sewol ferry capsized and sank off the coast of South Korea on April 16, with 475 people aboard. Many of the passengers were high school students.

Divers have recovered more than 180 bodies. Soon after the accident 174 people were rescued; the remaining passengers are missing and presumed drowned. Poor weather conditions have made the recovery effort difficult over the past ten days.

The ship's captain, Lee Jun-seok, 69, and 14 other top members of the crew escaped the disaster and are all now in custody, the Associated Press reported.

"When I saw the people's sadness and fury, I thought it was natural for me to step down with an apology," Chung said.

Lisa Tozzi is the global news director for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Lisa Tozzi at

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