Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Drowned N. Korean freighter crew members found holding portraits of 'Dear Leaders'

Most of the bodies of dead North Korean sailors who washed up on Japanese shores earlier this year after their freighter sank in the Sea of Japan had portraits of the late North Korean President Kim Il Sung and his son, the late Kim Jong Il, according to a police investigation.

In December, the 6,587-ton freighter, the Taegakbong, sank off the northeastern coast of North Korea. The Russian government picked up the SOS distress signal and offered assistance, which the crew of the Taegakbong rejected.

The 24 crew members of the stricken vessel took to lifeboats, only to go missing. North Korean media has yet to report the sinking.

From February to May, six bodies washed ashore along the coasts of Niigata, Akita and other prefectures. Most had red canteens, which contained the portraits of North Korea's founder and his son wrapped delicately in plastic.

In North Korea, portraits of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are required in all houses and public spaces. If citizens facing a disaster fail to take portraits with them while making their escape, they face possible severe punishment, including being sent to a concentration camp.

If they protect the portraits at the risk of losing their lives, they are praised by the authorities and lauded with heartwarming stories. The crew members of the Taegakbong apparently took the portraits with them, thinking not only of themselves but also their family members.

Because the bodies have yet to be identified, the police say they cannot return them to their bereaved families.

Local organizations of the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon) made inquiries to police and other government organizations about the accident. They have not yet offered to serve as mediators between the governments of Japan and North Korea to help identify the victims.

Tuesday 9 July 2013



Post a Comment