A “ghost ship” was dragged ashore in Japan, and clues point to North Korean defectors


This battered wooden boat containing eight bodies was found on a beach in Oga, part of Akita prefecture in Japan. Dozens of North Korean fishing boats bathe each year on the coast of Japan. Sometimes the occupants have died at sea, a phenomenon that local media call "ghost ships". (1964). The bodies had been floating in the Sea of ​​Japan for so long that only bones remained.

But the researchers in masks and overalls found clues inside the ramshackle wooden boat that pointed to its origin: an empty cigarette pack from a popular brand in North Korea and life jackets with Korean letters that never they used [19659003Theofficialsbelievethatthepeopleonboardofthelast"barocofantasma"towashonthecoastofJapanmayhavebeenattemptingtoabandonthecountry

It is not clear how long those on board had been there or when they died. The ocean currents off the coast of Japan change and the waters become agitated in the winter months, washing the boats into routine. More than 40 ships full of dead people have disappeared this year, according to Sky News. In 2016, the number was 66.

Some are undoubtedly fishing boats whose crews found a tragic fate, but the ship found on Monday did not seem to be one of them.

[Hawaii brings back Cold War-era nuclear warning sirens amid fears of North Korea strike]

The 23-foot ship was found in Akita prefecture in northern Japan, according to Kyodo News, then of a 68-year-old woman notifying the authorities about a ship that had been destroyed.

"I was surprised to see the boat in such bad condition," he told the news organization.

Later, he said, he saw authorities use stretchers to transport the bodies of the boat.

Some 1,000 people successfully defect from North Korea each year, and about 30,000 have fled to South Korea since the end of the Korean War in 1953. They tell stories of sometimes violent reprisals for political discourse, being banished to forced labor camps for watching old-fashioned American and old movies

But a silent and unknown number never survives attempts to escape, dying during desperate trips to South Korea, China or Japan.

Others are captured and face severe punishment for trying to leave.

[What we’ve learned about the North Korean soldier whose daring escape was caught on video]

According to the Vice President, "North Korea's criminal code states that deserters face two years of forced labor if they are caught crossing the border," although punishments may vary. [19659003] Radio Free Asia reported that the North Korean authorities warned that citizens who live near the Chinese border and are caught helping people to defect would be killed, and punishments would not stop there. The relatives of the offenders may be imprisoned or banished to remote regions of North Korea.

Even so, North Koreans desert by the hundreds. This month, the world was fascinated with the story of a North Korean soldier who escaped dramatically a few weeks ago: driving a jeep south until it got stuck in a ditch, and then ran through the demilitarized zone.

His old comrades shot him with pistols and badault rifles and put at least five bullets into him.

South Korean soldiers found him in a pile of leaves and dragged him to a safe place, and took him by helicopter to a hospital.

[What the parasites in a defector’s stomach tell us about North Korea]

Even before learning his name, doctors said his state told part of his story, according to Mara Eltagouri of The Washington Post. He had hepatitis B and tuberculosis, and parasite worms almost a foot long in his intestines.

Doctors say the earthworms signal humanitarian and health crises within the closed borders of North Korea.

Since then it has been recovering – and has become a source of demilitarized zone trolling.

South Korean soldiers have been broadcasting details about improving the medical condition of the defector in the demilitarized zone, according to Newsweek.

The speakers they use, which at one time were used to encourage soldiers to defect, can apparently be heard more than a dozen miles away.

"The news about an elite soldier as a JSA guard who fled in a hail of bullets will have a significant psychological impact on the border guards of North Korea," a military spokesman was quoted in the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo as saying.

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