The 6,825-ton ferry Sewol was built in June 1994 by Hayashikane Dockyard Co. in Japan. It was operated by a Japanese company for 18 years until it was retired in September 2012.
In October of the same year, Chonghaejin Marine Co. purchased the ferry and remodeled it to increase its capacity to hold 921 people.
At 145 meters long and 22 meters wide, the Sewol was among the largest cruisers in Korea. It could carry up to 130 sedans, 60 5-ton trucks and 200 shipping containers at the same time.
The vessel received an inspection by the Korean Register of Shipping in February, and has operated on the Incheon-Jejudo Island route since March.