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Park calls for sweeping nationwide safety inspections

2014/08/26 14:52

SEOUL, Aug. 26 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye called Tuesday for sweeping nationwide safety inspections and increased investment in safety to try to detect signs of possible disasters and prevent them.

The move is the latest in a series of efforts to make South Korea a safe country following April's ferry sinking that left more than 300 people dead or missing.

The disaster has triggered collective soul-searching in a country where safety is often overlooked by regulators in cozy relationships with their former colleagues in the private sector. It has also made public safety a top political priority for Park, who has vowed to remodel South Korea from square one.

Park said the upcoming nationwide safety inspections should deal with not only public facilities but practices and regulations as well.

The ferry disaster has prompted calls for drastic reforms to boost safety across the country and raise public awareness about safety.

Park floated the idea that ordinary citizens can report to the authorities any potential signs for accidents through smartphone apps.

"We should ensure that people can play the role of watchmen for safety to raise safety standards in the society," Park said in a meeting with government officials and private experts.

She also instructed officials to boost investment in safety, especially in the maintenance and reinforcement of schools.

Local media have reported that some old school buildings have cracks and other safety problems, prompting calls for immediate safety measures.

Earlier this year, the roof of a gymnasium packed with students collapsed in the southern city of Gyeongju, killing 10 people and injuring more than 100.

Police blamed shoddy construction and poor materials for the deadly gymnasium collapse at a resort in Gyeongju, 370 kilometers southeast of Seoul.