Moon vows to reopen Sewol investigation

By Yi Whan-woo

Leading presidential contender Moon Jae-in will revive a special investigative body that examined the Sewol ferry disaster to check remaining suspicions if elected in May, he said Friday.

During a visit to Jeonju Thursday, Moon said, “The next government will set up a new special investigative commission on the Sewol ferry disaster right away when its term begins.”

He said the commission will be tasked with “revealing every single truth” about the country’s worst maritime disaster. He said the outgoing conservative government was not cooperative with the previous special investigative commission, which ran from January 2015 to last September.

“Many people question what caused the salvage of the sunken ferry to begin so late and why it only began now,” Moon said. “The new committee will uncover the cause of the delayed salvage operation and what obstructed the previous commission in carrying out its mission.”

He also promised to go after those responsible for the disaster.

“The new commission will contribute to clearing up deeply rooted corruption and malpractices concerning public safety and making the Republic of Korea safe,” Moon said.

He said lifting the sunken ferry, which was brought to the surface Thursday, is “a critical step toward revealing the truth.”

Moon initially planned to announce his presidential bid Thursday, but re-scheduled it to Friday following progress on the salvage operation.

“Every citizen has been paying attention to the lifting of the ferry and Moon delayed his declaration as part of efforts to keep up with citizens’ interests,” his aides said.

Moon said in a video message Friday that his presidential bid will be “a step toward a change of the government.”

As an interim government organization, the initial special investigative commission carried out the first leg of its investigation for 12 months until the end of 2015.

It was tasked with finding the cause of the accident that left 304 passengers dead or missing and the corrupt ties between the maritime entrepreneurs and bureaucrats.

The government extended the probe for six months to June last year, in line with demands from bereaved families and commission members, including those recommended by liberal lawmakers.

The government, citing the commission’s special act, later refused to accept the probe’s call to extend its term until last September.

The commission was dissolved in September after the government stopped financial support.

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