- Why are North Korean boats and bodies washing up on Japanese coasts?
- Are citizens of North Korea sinking under sanctions?
- Are sanctions and hunger beginning to bite?
- Is there humanitarian crises inside closed borders of North Korea?
- Are conditions for most North Koreans horrendous?
If so, why is this man smiling?
North Korean boats are washing up on beaches in northern Japan in increasing numbers, often with their crew dead or missing and presumed lost at sea. Sometimes the occupants have died at sea, a phenomenon local media refers to as “ghost ships.” It is feared the number of distressed vessels found in this area will continue to grow because of international sanctions.
Capsized fishing boats and bodies washing up. . .
Late on November 23, 2017, a small, wooden fishing boat was found capsized in a harbor in Yurihonjo, Japan. The battered wooden boat contained eight bodies. It had been drifting in the Sea of Japan for so long that only an empty cigarette pack, unused life jackets with Korean lettering, and bones remained.
The 23-foot boat was found in Akita Prefecture according to Kyodo News, after a 68-year-old woman notified authorities about a dilapidated, drifting vessel.
“I was surprised to see the boat in such a bad condition,” she told the news organization. Later, she said, she watched as authorities used stretchers to carry bodies off the boat. It was not clear whether the people on the boat were fishermen who got into trouble at sea or people defecting from North Korea.
This is at least the second North Korean vessel found in these waters in a little over a week. Ocean currents off the coast of Japan shift and the waters get choppy in winter months, routinely washing ships ashore.
On Nov 15, the 15-member crew of a 35-foot squid fishing boat was also found by Japan Coast Guard ships in Japanese waters, about 225 miles off the coast. Three were rescued, three bodies were recovered, and the remaining nine are still missing.
Stories defectors tell . . .
North Korean defectors tell stories of sometimes violent reprisals for political speech, being banished to labor camps for watching American movies, and old-fashioned starvation. Unfortunately, a silent, unknown number never survive escape attempts, dying during desperate journeys to South Korea, China, or Japan. Others are captured and face severe punishment for trying to leave.
Radio Free Asia reported that North Korean officials warned citizens living near the Chinese border who are caught helping people defect would be put to death. And, the punishments wouldn’t stop there, as family members of violators can be imprisoned or banished to remote regions of North Korea.
Still, North Koreans defect by the hundreds.
This month, the world was riveted by the story of a North Korean soldier who escaped in dramatic fashion, driving a Jeep southward until it got stuck in a ditch, then sprinting across the demilitarized zone. His former comrades shot at him with pistols and assault rifles, putting at least five bullets into him. South Korean soldiers found him in a pile of leaves and dragged him to safety. He was flown to a hospital via helicopter.
He had hepatitis B, tuberculosis, and parasitic worms nearly a foot long in his intestines. Doctors say the worms point to the health and humanitarian crises inside the closed borders of North Korea.
South Korean broadcasts to North have psychological impact
South Korean soldiers are broadcasting details about the defector’s improving medical condition across demilitarized zone, according to Newsweek. The speakers they use, at one point used to encourage soldiers to defect, can apparently be heard more than 12 miles away. News about an elite soldier, like a JSA guard, having fled in a hail of bullets will have a significant psychological impact on North Korean border guards, said a military spokesman quoted in South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo.
Kim Jong-un is not being hurt by sanctions . . . the North Korean people are the ones suffering. This man should be doing something constructive for his people.
If this isn’t a catastrophe, I don’t know what is!
This man should not be smiling!