President Park Geun-hye visited Jindo on Saturday afternoon, her second trip to the island after the tragic sinking of the Sewol-ho ferry nearly three weeks ago.
The president spoke with about 50 relatives of the missing passengers at Paengmok-hang harbor near the accident site.
President Park, who lost both of her parents at a young age, said she knows the sadness of losing a family member, and that it hurts her to think of how the families must be feeling as they await word of their loved ones.
She expressed her condolences to the families and said she feels responsible for the events after the accident occurred. and emphasized that the nation's safety infrastructure has to be strengthened.
When one relative demanded to know what she would do with regard to Lee Ju-young, the Oceans and Fisheries minister who has been criticized for mishandling the incident, the president replied that anyone responsible for wrongdoing related to the incident and those who have committed a crime will be punished accordingly.
President Park also reviewed the search and recovery operation from a barge at the accident site.
She checked the National Forensic Service's progress on identifying recovered bodies, talked with divers engaged in the recovery operation and urged everyone involved to do their utmost to move the process along.
In related news, the first phase of the search and recovery operation is expected to be completed within the next few days.
Most of the cabins on the ship have been searched, raising concerns that some of the bodies may already have been swept away.
The president vowed that the search would go on.
"I promise that the search for the missing will continue until the families say we can stop, so there is no need for concern."
This means the wreckage of the ship won't be pulled up before the families give their consent.
Kwon Soa, Arirang News.