Emotional graduation ceremony for Sewol ferry survivors

Emotional graduation ceremony for Sewol ferry survivors
A mourner cries as she pays tribute to victims of the sunken passenger ship Sewol, at a temporary group memorial altar for the victims in Ansan April 27, 2014.
PHOTO: Reuters

Seoul - Survivors of South Korea's Sewol ferry mishap, carrying 250 roses representing their friends who died, graduated from their high school on Tuesday at an emotional, low-key ceremony.

The Sewol was carrying 476 people when it sank off the southwestern island of Jindo in April 2014, with the loss of 304 lives.

Of those who died, 250 were students from the same Dawon High School in Ansan, some 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of Seoul.

The 75 survivors who graduated on Tuesday wore yellow ribbons of remembrance on their lapels or pinned to their bags, and kept their heads lowered for much of the ceremony - diplomas and roses in their hands.

"Because of the Sewol accident, all of us had to undergo a severe trial. But this ordeal was not wasted on us," one of the survivors said in a graduation speech.

"We've learned how to get over whatever may come to us", he was quoted as saying by the Yonhap news agency.

The ferry tragedy shocked and enraged the country as it became clear that it was almost entirely man-made - the result of an illegal redesign, an overloaded cargo bay, an inexperienced crew and an unhealthy nexus between operators and state regulators.

Following the ceremony, some of the students visited a nearby memorial and laid their diplomas in front of framed portraits of the victims.

A number of victims' parents attended the event.

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