Conflict Marks 1st Anniversary of Ferry Disaster

      April 17, 2015 09:32

      People lined up for hundreds of meters in front of a memorial altar in Ansan south of Seoul to pay tribute to the victims of the last year's ferry disaster on Thursday, the first anniversary of the tragedy.

      But the families of the victims canceled a scheduled memorial service in protest against what they see as a lack of initiative by the government and politicians to investigate corruption that condoned safety violations and to raise the sunken vessel.

      Prime Minister Lee Wan-koo and ruling Saenuri party chief Kim Moo-sung tried to visit the memorial altar but were turned back by victims' family members.

      Danwon High School students pay their respects at a memorial altar in Asan, Gyeonggi Province on Thursday.

      Around 800 students of Danwon High School also came to pay tribute to their friends and schoolmates. They wore yellow ribbons and carried flowers, letters and sweets to lay on the altar. The tragedy took the lives of 246 students of Danwon High School juniors who went on an overnight field trip. Another four have never been found.

      The school held its own private memorial service in the morning with students singing and reading poems. The victims' families canceled the scheduled service and headed instead to Gwanghwamun Plaza to take part in a rally calling on the government to accept their demands for a broader investigation of the causes of the tragedy.

      Memorial services were also held in front of City Hall until late at night. Tens of thousands of people gathered to hold a candlelight vigil and pay their respects at makeshift altars in downtown Seoul.

      Police block a street in Gwanghwamun in downtown Seoul to prevent protesters from marching to Cheong Wa Dae on Thursday. /Newsis

      Some mourners and family members of victims took to the streets seeking to march on Cheong Wa Dae. Police stationed around 10,000 troops around Gwanghwamun Plaza and City Hall to keep them from approaching the presidential office.

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