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Tearful Park takes responsibility for ferry disaster, to address corrupt culture

Published on May 19, 2014 9:22 AM
South Korean President Park Geun Hye (centre) prays during a Mass in memory of victims of the sunken Sewol ferry at a Catholic church in Seoul on May 18, 2014. Amid nationwide anger over the incident, Ms Park met relatives of the victims on Friday, repeatedly apologising for the government's handling of the incident. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL - South Korean President Park Geun Hye took tearful responsibility Monday for the mishandling of last month's Sewol ferry disaster, admitting that many lives were lost through incompetence and a lack of preparedness.

"The ultimate responsibility of the poor response to this accident lies with me," Park said in an address to the nation, during which she openly wept and twice bowed deeply before the television cameras in a display of contrition.

Park's popularity ratings have been hammered by the April 16 disaster that claimed around 300 lives, most of them schoolchildren.

She has voiced regret several times, but Monday's address was the first time she has explicitly accepted direct responsibility for what has become a defining moment of her presidency.

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