The sinking of MV Sewol (Hangul: 세월호 침몰 사고; hanja: 世越號沉沒事故) occurred on the morning of 16 April 2014 en route from Incheon to Jeju. The Japanese-built South Korean ferry capsized while carrying 476 people, mostly secondary school students from Danwon High School (Ansan City). The 6,825-ton vessel sent a distress signal from about 2.7 kilometres (1.7 mi) north off Byeongpungdo at 08:58 Korea Standard Time (23:58 UTC, 15 April 2014). In all, 304 passengers and crew members died in the disaster. Of the approximately 172 survivors, more than half were rescued by fishing boats and other commercial vessels that arrived at the scene approximately 40 minutes after the South Korean coast guard.
The sinking of Sewol has resulted in widespread social and political reaction within South Korea. Many criticize the actions of the captain and most of the crew of the ferry. More criticize the ferry operator and the regulators who oversaw its operations. Additional criticism has been directed at the South Korean government and media for its disaster response and attempts to downplay government culpability. On 15 May 2014, the captain and three crew members were charged with murder, while the other 11 members of the crew were indicted for abandoning the ship. An arrest warrant was also issued for Yoo Byung-eun, the owner of Chonghaejin Marine, which operated Sewol, but he could not be found despite a nationwide manhunt. On 22 July 2014, police revealed that they had established that a dead man found in a field 415 kilometres south of Seoul was Yoo. Foul play was ruled out, but police say they have yet to establish the cause of Yoo's death.
On the first anniversary of the disaster, as part of commemorations for the victims of the sinking of the Sewol, 4,475 people held electronic candles to form the shape of the ferry in an attempt to set a Guinness World Record for largest torchlight image.