For the past three years, Moon Jong-Taek has carried a small photo of a teenage girl, her dark hair falling loosely over her shoulders.

She is wearing a white top, her school uniform, and just below are the words "Danwon High School,'' indicating the picture was most likely taken for a school ID.

It would be the last ID photo she would ever sit for.

The girl in the photo is Moon Ji-sung, one of 304 people who lost their lives in South Korea's worst maritime disasters in history: The Sewol Ferry tragedy.

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Moon Ji-sung's identity tag carried by her parents. Photo / Vaimoana Tapaleao
Moon Ji-sung's identity tag carried by her parents. Photo / Vaimoana Tapaleao

On April 16, 2014, a total of 476 crew and passengers, made up mostly of teenage students on a school trip, were on board the MV Sewol when it got into trouble and capsized at sea off Jindo, South Korea.

What would ensue would be a heartbreaking display, with many people; family and friends and people all around the world, watching the disaster unfold live on television news and on social media.

Only 172 people would be rescued, while more than 300 people would die that day.

Nine of those victims' families are still waiting to bring their loved ones home as their bodies have never been recovered.

Three years on, many of the victims' families continue to share their stories in a bid to shed light on a situation they say should never happen again.

Still missing: The bodies of nine victims of the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster (pictured) have never been found. Photo / Vaimoana Tapaleao
Still missing: The bodies of nine victims of the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster (pictured) have never been found. Photo / Vaimoana Tapaleao

Moon Jong-Taek and his wife Ahn Myeong-mi have travelled the world sharing their daughter's story.

Late last month they were in Auckland and have since travelled to Australia.

Speaking to the Herald, they said that if they could inform at least one person of the tragedy of that day, and how it could have been prevented, they would have achieved something.

"We lost our daughter, but our hope is that the loss of her life, and that of the lives of the other victims, can be used to protect the lives of others through raising awareness of the Sewol tragedy,'' her mother said.

Ji-sung's father, Moon Jong-Taek, has since launched a media outlet, 416 TV.net, that reports specifically about the Sewol ferry sinking and updates about what victims' families are doing.

"Each country differs slightly in terms of industrial development. But the value of human life is equally important.

"Our hope is that through our efforts, we raise awareness [about] the Sewol disaster all over the world and the importance of the value of human life is welcomed.''

The couple said one of the biggest aims for many of the teenage victims' parents was that governments all around the world learn from the Sewol disaster and implement or strengthen systems of safety, as a result.

"It's not just about my daughter, but the other 303 lives lost that fateful day."

Ji-sung's parents' visit has inspired many within the Korean community in New Zealand to spread the Sewol message also.

The Koreans NZ For a Better Future group has been holding special memorial services and rallies for the cause, in a bid to raise awareness among New Zealanders.

Spokeswoman Rebekah Jaung said she, like many other Korean New Zealanders, were heavily affected by the tragic events of April 16, 2014.

"There have been [other] sinking disasters around the world. But the problem with the Sewol ferry disaster is that all of Korea and people all around the world saw the ship sinking into the water.

"We saw the government not making an effort to rescue the people inside. This was only the start.

"For me, I was interested because I saw it live and it was the first time I'd seen something terrible happen in Korea."

Ji-sung's mother said she wanted her child's life to be remembered as an event that led to another, better, outcome.

As she described it: "Like the blossoming of a flower.''