Reeling South Korean government scrambles to change the way it runs ferries in wake of sinking

The Associated Press

FILE - In this April 18, 2014 file photo, South Korean Coast Guard officers search missing passengers aboard the ferry Sewol, center, in the water off the southern coast near Jindo, South Korea. The South Korean government is scrambling to fix what Prime Minister Park Geun-hye calls the “deep-rooted evils” that contributed to last month’s ferry sinking, which left more than 300 people dead or missing. As investigators probe cozy links between the shipping industry and its regulators, Seoul has promised new monitoring and regulations for domestic passenger ships, which are not governed by international rules. (AP Photo/Yonhap, File) KOREA OUT

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The Korean Shipping Association, which regulates and oversees departures and arrivals of domestic passenger ships, is a private group, unlike many of its counterparts in other countries.

The association gets paperwork from captains on crew, passengers and cargo, ensures that ships undertake safety measures such as evacuation drills and decides whether ships are safe to depart. Its biggest business, however, is selling insurance products to shipping companies and operators.

Since the Sewol disaster, the oceans ministry has been considering taking the job of overseeing passenger-ship safety away from the shipping association, ministry official Kwon Jun-young said. Kwon said they are discussing which agency or agencies should take on the job.

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