Teenager's mobile phone footage reveals harrowing final moments on South Korean ferry

Dramatic footage released by the father of a teenage boy killed in the Sewol ferry disaster reveals the harrowing final moments of a group of teenagers on the ship as it capsized.

The video was found on a mobile phone attached to the body of Park Su-hyeon, a 17-year-old student whose body was recovered shortly after the disaster off South Korea last month.

It begins with nervous laughter as the seriousness of the situation appears not to be immediately clear to the students.

Students eventually put on life jackets and some are seen lying on the floor.
Students eventually put on life jackets and some are seen lying on the floor. Credit: AP

According to translators at the Associated Press news agency, one teenager joked "it's like we're becoming Titanic", while friends laughed.

Later, however, the mood darkened. One student asked: "Am I really going to die?".

"I'm really scared," another said.

As the video neared its end, others spoke of their fear and offered messages to their loved ones. Some warned their siblings not to take school trips lest they end up suffering the same fate.

The boy's father, Park Jong-dae, said he had released the video because he wanted to show conditions on board the ship as it sank.

Early on, a message is heard from the loudspeakers informing passengers: "Don't move away from your places and brace for any possible accidents."

That message continued to be transmitted to those aboard the ship, the footage indicates.

A student lunges to stay upright on the tilting ship.
A student lunges to stay upright on the tilting ship. Credit: AP

The last such message came at 9:08: "We're again announcing: For passengers who can wear life vests, please wear them now. Never move away from your places."

The warning was recorded eight minutes after, according to a communications transcript, one of the crew members told a marine traffic official that "the body of the ship has tilted, and it's impossible to move".

The captain of the ship, along with 14 other crew members, have since been arrested and face charges including abandonment and negligence. Officials say his delay in telling passengers to evacuate the ship meant hundreds were given little or no chance to escape with their lives.

He, however, claims he was concerned about sending those aboard into cold waters and fast currents until rescuers arrived.