South Korea ferry tragedy anniversary
A mother of a victim onboard sunken ferry Sewol cries as she attends a memorial ceremony, ahead of the first anniversary of the disaster, at a port in Jindo Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

South Korea marks the first anniversary of the Sewol ferry disaster which killed more than 300 people, mostly children, as the victims' families complain of poor handling of the crisis.

A mix of grief and anger overpowered the family members, who have been demanding an independent inquiry, at the mourning site in Ansan forcing South Korean Prime Minister Lee Wan Koo to turn away without paying tributes. An entire class of high school students from the city of Ansan perished in the tragedy.

More than 250 students were on the overloaded ferry when it sank off Jindo Island last year. The owners and operators of the vessel have been blamed for illegally redesigning the ship. Government authorities are also facing severe criticism from the victims' families over what they see as indifference in setting up a full-fledged independent panel to probe the incident.

Of the 304 who died in the disaster, nine are still unaccounted for. President Park Geun-hye has announced on the anniversary that efforts will continue to recover the missing victims.

Park paid a visit to the southwestern port of Paengmok in Jindo where the tragedy took place. Most of the victims' families and friends left the site before Park's visit as a mark of protest against the government. It is unclear if she met some of the victims' relatives at the site but she was forced to leave the place after the situation began to spiral out of control.

More than 300 memorial ceremonies are set to take place across South Korea to remember the victims. Some of the organisers have threatened to cancel the memorial services if the authorities fail to promise to salvage the ship and hold a credible investigation.