SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea's president replaced seven Cabinet members Friday in an apparent bid to win back sagging public trust in her administration after April's ferry disaster.
President Park Geun-hye has come under harsh criticism for the government's handling of the sinking of the Sewol, which left 304 people dead or missing. She had already nominated a new prime minister and replaced her defense minister and intelligence chief.
The Cabinet posts at the finance ministry and security and public administration ministry were among the personnel changes announced Friday, said Min Kyung-wook, the presidential spokesman.
The seven minister designates were required to undergo National Assembly hearings but their appointments don't need approval from the legislature.
Park's popularity has plummeted since the sinking but her ruling conservative party didn't suffer a big defeat in local elections earlier this month. Her party won eight of 17 important mayoral provincial races in the June 4 elections while her liberal rivals took the other nine.
The cause of the sinking is still being investigated. Officials say excessive cargo on the ship, crew members' abandonment of passengers, and the coast guard's slow, unprofessional rescue operations are likely contributing factors for the disaster.
Authorities have been launching massive manhunts for weeks to capture Yoo Byung-eun, a fugitive billionaire who they believe owns the ferry because his and his family's alleged corruption may have contributed to the sinking.
On Friday, police detained an elder brother of Yoo on suspicion of embezzlement, according to local police officers.