South Korea's president vowed to raise the sunken Sewol ferry yesterday, but failed to appease grieving relatives on the first anniversary of the disaster that claimed 304 lives - most of them schoolchildren. "I will take the necessary steps to salvage the ship at the earliest possible date," Park Geun-hye announced during a brief visit to the southern island of Jindo - the closest landfall to the site where the Sewol sank on April 16. Her announcement followed weeks of protests by victims' families demanding a firm commitment on raising the 6,825-tonne ferry, despite the technical challenges and the estimated US$110 million cost. But the families were still not satisfied and boycotted a planned anniversary memorial event, saying Park had failed to give other assurances on ensuring a fully independent inquiry into the tragedy. The tense to-and-fro reflected the depth of residual anger in South Korea a year after the passenger ferry went down. While largely blamed on the ship's illegal redesign and overloading, the accident laid bare deeper-rooted problems of corruption, lax safety standards and regulatory failings attributed to the country's relentless push for economic growth. Of the 304 who died, 250 were children from the same high school in Ansan, a city south of Seoul that was the focus of Thursday's remembrance activities.