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(LEAD) Park to make televised address to nation over Sewol disaster

All Headlines 14:10 May 18, 2014

(ATTN: UPDATES with Park's attendance of a Catholic mass in last 2 paras; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, May 18 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye will address the nation via a televised speech this week over the sinking of the ferry Sewol, her office said Sunday, a month after one of the worst maritime disasters in South Korea has left the nation in deep grief and anger over the government's failed initial response.

Park will address the people in a nationally televised speech Monday morning, as the rescue workers are still grappling with finding those still missing from the 6,825-ton ferry that sank near the southwestern island of Jindo on April 16.

The confirmed death toll has risen to 286, with the number of those still unaccounted for dropping to 18 as of Sunday.

She is expected to issue a public apology and reveal her plans to overhaul the national security system and deeply entrenched bureaucracy, and revamp the emergency management system, officials said.


<YNAPHOTO path='C:/YNA/YNACLI~1/Down/Article/AEN20140518001551320_01_i.jpg' id='' title='' caption='President Park Geun-hye gives solace to one of the bereaved families who visited the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae on May 16, 2014, one month after the ferry Sewol carrying some 476 passengers sank in southwestern waters. (Yonhap)'/>

Her belated move comes as the tragic disaster has dealt a serious blow to Park over the botched initial response, lack of safety measures and cozy link between authorities and the ship's operator

On Friday, Park made a direct apology to relatives of the victims as she struggled to contain the political fallout from the disaster ahead of the upcoming local elections slated for early next month.

After the statement, Park will depart the nation to visit the United Arab Emirates for two days to attend an opening ceremony of the first reactor constructed by a South Korean consortium, her spokesman Min Kyung-wook said.

On Sunday, Park attended a mass at Myeongdong Cathedral in downtown Seoul to pay tribute to the victims and solace bereaved families. She vowed to join efforts by religious circles to help people return to their normal lives, Min said.

Earlier this month, Park attended a ceremony celebrating Buddha's birthday at Jogye Temple, of the country's largest Buddhist sect, where she expressed her regret over the ferry sinking and pledged to overhaul the nation's social system plagued with irregularities.
(END)

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