Camp accused of negligence

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Camp accused of negligence

The promoter of a military-style summer camp in Taean County, South Chungcheong, where five teenage students drowned Thursday, has been accused of negligence by the students’ high school.

The principal of Kongju National University High School said he would resign to take responsibility for the incident, but the bereaved families are calling for stronger punishment.

The school yesterday submitted a report to the Coast Guard accusing the head of Anmyeondo Resort, a travel agency and promoter of the military-style summer camp, of failing to provide proper safety measures.

“They clearly neglected their duties as the organizer of the camp,” the school stated in its report.

“They hired unqualified people as instructors and ordered students to walk into deep water without life jackets. It is a serious violation that they failed to secure the students’ safety. Some of the instructors didn’t inform the school about the accident and even tried to cover it up for about an hour.”

On Thursday, five juniors taking part in the three-day camp, along with 193 classmates, were walking in the ocean waist-deep when they were struck by a one-meter (3.2-foot) wave and swept out to sea where they drowned.

The Kongju National University High School report said that the camp organizer had not officially apologized to the victims’ families or offered any compensation, so called for the most severe punishment possible.

The head of the tour agency that runs the camp, surnamed Kim, 48, was questioned by the police at 9 a.m. yesterday.

Lee Sang-gyu, principal of the high school, expressed his intention to resign from his post.

“The only possible way to take the responsibility for this accident is to resign from the position,” Lee said in a press conference at the Taean Health Center and County Hospital yesterday.

“I sincerely apologize to the parents of the [dead] students for failing to secure the students’ safety. I will await legal punishment.”

But the bereaved families said Lee’s resignation was not enough, demanding the South Chungcheong Office of Education also remove his retirement and other benefits.

Some family members tried to break through the press line during Lee’s press conference, saying he did not provide adequate answers to their questions earlier.

BY KWON SANG-SOO [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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