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Conservative critic under fire for remarks on ferry disaster

SEOUL, April 23 (Yonhap) -- A conservative critic came under fire Wednesday for his comments about a deadly ferry sinking that has left the whole nation grief-stricken for more than a week. The death toll from the ferry sinking reached 139 people as of Wednesday morning, with 163 people still missing. Of the 476 people aboard the ship, most of whom were high school students on a field trip, only 174 survived the disaster, and no one has been found alive since the day of the sinking.

Park, Chinese President Xi discuss signs of N. Korea preparing for nuclear test

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S. Korean jailed for spying in Iran released

SEOUL, April 23 (Yonhap) -- A South Korean citizen who was jailed in Iran on spying charges last year has been released and plans to return home soon, a government source said Wednesday. The 43-year-old South Korean man, surnamed Kim, was convicted of espionage in an Iranian court last September for taking pictures of some Iranian government facilities while he was traveling the country in last 2012. He was given a seven-year prison sentence and had been serving the prison term.

S. Korean official sacked over remarks on ferry rescue effort

MOKPO, South Korea, April 22 (Yonhap) -- A South Korean coast guard official was relieved of his duties on Tuesday for comments deemed insensitive to the grieving families of the victims of the Sewol ferry disaster. The official told reporters last week that "Is there anything the coast guard couldn't do? Wouldn't it be wonderful to rescue 80 people?" He made the comments when asked if the coast guard had poorly handled the accident. The official in the southwestern port city of Mokpo was not immediately available for comment.

S. Korea's railway chief apparently in N. Korea

SEOUL, April 22 (Yonhap) -- The head of South Korea's railway company apparently arrived in North Korea on Tuesday for a conference meant to boost international cooperation between railway operators. Choi Yeon-hye, president and CEO of the Korea Railroad Corp., is included in an international delegation of rail officials scheduled to attend a meeting of the Organization for Cooperation between Railways (OSJD) set for April 24-28.

S. Korea's railway chief apparently in N. Korea

SEOUL, April 22 (Yonhap) -- The head of South Korea's railway company apparently arrived in North Korea on Tuesday for a conference meant to boost international cooperation between railway operators. Choi Yeon-hye, president and CEO of the Korea Railroad Corp., is included in an international delegation of rail officials scheduled to attend a meeting of the Organization for Cooperation between Railways (OSJD) set for April 24-28.

N. Korea bashes South's lawmaker over ferry disaster remarks

SEOUL, April 22 (Yonhap) -- North Korea lambasted the South's ruling party lawmaker Tuesday for his attempt to capitalize on last week's deadly sinking of a passenger ferry to create anti-Pyongyang moods. Rep. Han Ki-ho of the ruling Saenuri Party has come under fire for his divisive Facebook post on Sunday at a time when the entire nation should focus on searching those missing after the ferry Sewol sank off South Korea's southwestern island of Jindo on Wednesday.

Conference of overseas Korean biz leaders opens on Jeju Island

SEOGWIPO, South Korea, April 22 (Yonhap) -- South Korean business leaders from around the world kicked off a four-day gathering on Jeju Tuesday with discussions on ways to help companies on the resort island boost exports and forge closer ties with overseas entrepreneurs.

Vessel safety agency overlooked safety violations: report

SEOUL, April 22 (Yonhap) -- A government inspection has shown that the country's main agency in charge of ensuring the safety of maritime vessels overlooked safety violations by ship operators, a civic group said Tuesday. Citing a report on the inspection into the Korea Ship Safety Technology Authority, the Center for Freedom of Information said the agency overlooked safety violations by some local ship operators. The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries released the report after carrying out the inspection in October and November last year.

Seoul vows support for families of foreign victims of ferry sinking

SEOUL, April 22 (Yonhap) -- South Korea said Tuesday it will extend utmost support to foreigners planning to enter the country for the remains of their loved ones killed in last week's deadly ferry sinking. The 6,825-ton ferry Sewol sank in waters off South Korea's southwestern island of Jindo on Wednesday due to what is believed to have been a faster than usual turn. Of 476 passengers on board, 108 have been confirmed dead, with 194 others still missing.
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