The South Korean government is offering loans with substantial repayment periods to domestic ferry companies to enhance safety standards.
Ferry safety has been in the spotlight in South Korea following the capsizing of Sewol on April 16, 2014. The disaster left 304 out of 476 passengers and crew dead or missing.
On Feb. 10, 2015, the country's Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries announced plans to improve domestic-ferry services' standards, including upgrading vessels, strengthening safety standards and assisting the companies' business expansion.
To achieve this, the ministry said it would offer loans between KRW50bn (US$45m) and KRW125bn, with repayment periods of 8-10 years.
The ministry said that it plans to remove entry barriers for new players from July, and to reform licensing and safety standards to increase competition between ferry operators, as this would keep them on their toes.
It also announced that it would designate the Korea Ship Safety Technology Authority (KSSTA) to conduct on-site safety supervision and guidance for ferry operators.
Officials from the KSSTA would work alongside 34 maritime safety supervisors who have been monitoring the domestic ferry services since the Sewol disaster.
Unlike the Korean Register of Shipping, the KSSTA is a classification society that focuses on ships plying domestic waters.