Twelve old wooden boats carrying decomposing human corpses have turned up one by one in the span of two months in the Sea of Japan.
The bodies of 22 people were partially skeletonized. Experts were concluding they were defectors from North Korea who tried to escape the regime. But the more disturbing tale was that they were fishermen compelled to fish more than they could to please North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
The mysterious wooden ships were emblazoned with Korean lettering that reads “Korean People’s Army,” CNN reported. It is the name of North Korea’s military defense forces. A scrap of cloth found inside one of the ships also resembled the North Korean flag.
The ships have a “striking resemblance” to those ridden by defector from North Korea, Yoshihiko Yamada was quoted as saying by CNN, citing Japan’s NHK. As to why these people were turning up dead and at a stage where they were decaying, Yamada explained, “The boats are made of wood and old and heavy. They can’t travel very fast and the engines are not powerful enough to turn the ships against the currents.” They might have been lost in sea for so long before reaching the shores of Japan.
John Nilsson-Wright, head of the Asia program at the Chatham House policy, told CNN that there is no doubt that the boats are North Korean. He shared the theory that the corpses were that of the people trying to escape the Kim Jong-un’s regime. “What we do know is that for those people living outside of Pyongyang life remains extraordinarily hard, and it may be an economic necessity as much as a desire for political freedom encouraging some people in the North to try and leave the country,” Wright explained.
A report from Reuters told a more chilling tale: following orders from the Korean People’s Army, the corpses are of those people who had surrendered under pressure from their leader to catch more fish than they could, aboard of ill-equipped boats.
Kim Jong-un had put great unbelievably high demands for fishermen for the country to earn foreign currency by selling their catch. The boats are possibly operating to catch sailfin sandfish, An Chan-il, a former junior officer in North Korea’s army, told Reuters. “Kim Jong Un is pushing hard to produce more fish. So these boats must have been stranded after overworking,” Chan-il said.
Just recently, the North Korean leader was pictured visiting a fishing station in a call for the facility to be modernized. “Modernization of the station will help it catch more fish,” the leader of North Korea was quoted as saying. “The station should be turned into an up-to-date fishery base which can be boasted of in the world, thus making our ongoing efforts produce good results for the service persons and civilians,” he explained further.