South Korea ferry disaster: President Park phones parent of missing student

SEOUL (THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - South Korea's President Park Geun Hye has spoken by phone with the father of a high school student missing in the sinking of a ferry off the south coast, honouring her pledge to call him to make sure a series of promises she made are being carried out, an official said on Friday.

Ms Park made the phone call around 10pm on Thursday, her spokesman Min Kyung Wook said, after returning from a visit to the site of the ferry's sinking and a meeting with the grieving families of hundreds of people, mostly students, still remaining unaccounted for after the ship sank on Wednesday morning.

During the meeting, Ms Park assured the families that the government is doing its best and will do so until all of the missing are rescued. She also made a series of promises to the families, including installing a large screen at the indoor gymnasium where the families are staying to keep them up to date on the rescue efforts.

Close to the end of the meeting, the father of a missing high school girl asked Ms Park to call him later in the day to check whether her promises are being carried out at the scene. Ms Park promised to do so and received his phone number.

The father, surnamed Moon, was quoted by the spokesman as saying that Ms Park called him and pledged again the government will do its best to rescue the missing. During the conversation that lasted more than five minutes, Ms Park also checked on the status of her promises, the father was quoted as saying.

"I begged her to send in the best agents to rescue even a single person," Mr Moon was quoted as saying.

He also told the spokesman that the name of his daughter keeps appearing in news reports on the list of those rescued, when in fact she remains unaccounted for. Asked if he raised the issue with Ms Park, he said he did not because he thought it was not right to raise a personal matter with the president of a country.

Ms Park's chief of staff, Kim Ki Choon, after returning from the trip to the scene, presided over a meeting of senior secretaries on Thursday evening to ensure that her promises will be carried out. Mr Kim was expected to hold a similar meeting on Friday morning to discuss ways to increase support for the families.

"All we have to do is to help everything at the scene go smoothly," spokesman Min said.

South Korea ferry sinking graphic

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