Some 1,074 academics overseas have called for an inquiry into the causes of the ferry disaster off the southwest coast and an apology from President Park Geun-hye.
"The tragic accident is attributable to the neoliberal government policies that promote deregulation and privatization at the cost of public safety," they said in a statement at a press conference in Washington on Tuesday.
"What would have been a terrible accident grew to a horrific tragedy that led to hundreds of lives drowning to death because the government failed to respond in a timely and responsible manner."
They said the Korean government's hands "were entangled in a web of business interests."
They also cited the "corruption, ineptitude, and irresponsibility pervasive in today's Korea" as the cause of the tragedy.
The academics called for an independent team of prosecutors to investigate the root causes of the disaster.