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Opposition denounces Cheong Wa Dae as irresponsible over ferry disaster

2014/04/24 11:18

SEOUL, April 24 (Yonhap) -- The main opposition party blasted the office of President Park Geun-hye on Thursday for trying to dodge responsibility for the deadly sinking of the ferry Sewol after the national security adviser said he is not in charge of overseeing disaster handling.

National security adviser Kim Jang-soo made the remark Wednesday through presidential spokesman Min Kyung-wook, after a local newspaper singled him and four other high-level officials out for failing to do their work properly in handling the aftermath of the sinking.

Kim said his national security office "is not the control tower" for handling disasters, and its main duties are limited to national defense and security matters. The remark was seen as unconvincing as the top office had said last week that Kim reported the ferry accident to President Park Geun-hye and took necessary measures.

The remark prompted strong criticism that Cheong Wa Dae is trying to shift blames to other government offices amid mounting public anger that more lives could have been saved if the government had properly handled the sinking that left nearly 300 people dead or missing.

"How can Cheong Wa Dae, which is supposed to show an attitude of infinite responsibility, say the national security office is not the control tower for disasters?" said Rep. Jun Byung-hun of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy during a party meeting.

"Genuine security refers to protecting the lives and properties of the people ... The government was not there where and when the people needed it badly. This is what makes us more frustrated and angry," he said.

Rep. Woo Won-shik of the same party said that the top office must be "out of its mind."

   "It is not only the ferry Sewol that sank. The government's disaster management system sank too," he said. "At the top of the system is Cheong Wa Dae. Unless it is out of its mind, how can it say that at a time when it can't repent enough" for the disaster, Woo added.

Rep. Jung Sung-ho also said the national security adviser is irresponsible.

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