It's been three years since the Sewol-ho ferry accident, but for many the pain lasts to this day.
Memorial ceremonies were held nationwide on Sunday -- marking the third anniversary -- to remember the victims and the tragedy.
At Paengmok-hang Harbor, near the waters where the ferry capsized, hundreds of mourners took part in the service, calling for an investigation into the exact cause of the sinking and demanding that such a disaster never happens again.
"I felt it was my obligation to come here, so that the incident is not forgotten as the years go by."
"It's devastating that so many people died. It's also regretful that it took three years to salvage the vessel when it feels like it could have been done earlier."
On April 16th, 2014 the Sewol-ho ferry capsized off Korea's southwestern coast, leaving 304 people dead, most of them high school students, and nine people still remain unaccounted for.
A joint investigation team concluded that the ship had been overloaded with cargo, that it was redesigned illegally and had an inexperienced crew.
"What's more significant about this year's anniversary is that the ill-fated Sewol-ho ferry is finally on dry land after being underwater for three years. People have come with hope in their hearts for a successful search so the missing can return to their families."
The operation to raise the Sewol-ho, which was lying about 40 meters under water, began in late March, and the ferry is now on shore at its final destination of Mokpo New Port.
It's currently being cleaned and fumigated, while preparations are underway for an in-vessel search for the missing passengers and well as an investigation into the exact cause of the sinking.
"I feel terrible for the children, and feel so bad about the reality of our society. I came here to teach my own children what happened. Something like this should never ever happen again."
The government has vowed to prioritize finding the remains of the missing.
It's hoped that then the families whose lives have been at a standstill can go on again, but the accident and its victims will forever be remembered.
Kim Min-ji, Arirang News. Mokpo.