President Park Geun-hye has decided to accept Prime Minister Chung Hong-won's resignation but said she wants to wait to release him from his duties until the disaster is brought under control.
Chung had offered to resign early on Sunday,.. amid mounting criticism of the government's handling of the Sewol-ho ferry disaster.
"I would like to express my deepest condolences for those who lost their lives,.. and my deepest apologies to the victims' families. I'd like to apologize on behalf of the government for mishandling a slew of problems that could have prevented the accident,.. to the government's initial and follow-up response."
He added that his resignation was long overdue.
"I wanted to resign much earlier,.. but I decided to keep my position in order to deal with the accident and come up with a set of countermeasures. I've decided to resign because I no longer want to burden state affairs."
With Chung's resignation,.. a Cabinet reshuffle appears more likely and many others are expected to be held accountable for what critics have called a slow and inefficient response to the ferry disaster.
Chung's sudden announcement was met with mixed responses from the Korean public.
Some have criticized the move as inappropriate when search and rescue operations and investigations are ongoing.
Others have asked why the decision was made so abruptly.
On Saturday, just a day before he made the announcement, Chung had called a meeting with related ministers to come up with countermeasures in the wake of the accident.
Chung's announcement prompted the ruling Saenuri Party to urge the prime minister to put all of his effort into dealing with the aftermath of the accident,.. while the opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy slammed the move, calling it "utterly irresponsible" and "cowardly."
Yoo Li-an, Arirang News.