President Park Geun-hye on Tuesday slammed prosecutors and law enforcement officers for failing to capture the fugitive de facto owner of ferry operator Chonghaejin Marine.
Yoo Byung-eon is believed to be chiefly responsible for the ship's appalling disregard of safety rules that played a decisive role in killing more than 300 people in the April 16 ferry disaster.
Park in a Cabinet meeting said it "does not make any sense" that police and prosecutors have failed to arrest Yoo and urged them to consider "all means possible" to catch him.
This was the third time Park has voiced her dissatisfaction with attempts to arrest the fugitive amid growing calls to appoint new officials to oversee his arrest.
The nationwide manhunt is dragging on, but prosecutors have few leads. The longer it takes to find Yoo, Cheong Wa Dae fears, the more disaffected the public will become with the government's abilities.
Following Park's comments, prosecutors held an emergency meeting that included police and military officers, and decided to mobilize troops to arrest the fugitive.
Soldiers will be deployed to prevent Yoo from fleeing the country by boat and to track him down at sea if he does manage to embark. Yoo is believed to be negotiating with organized crime to aid his escape.
Customs authorities have bolstered checks at all ports across the nation.
Police also vowed to mobilize all of their resources to arrest Yoo. National Police Agency Commissioner General Lee Sung-han in a video conference with regional police chiefs ordered them to "use all means possible" to capture the fugitive.