8 bodies found on washed-up boat in northern Japan

Nov 30, 2017, 12:44
8 bodies found on washed-up boat in northern Japan

"North Korea pushes so hard for its people to gather more fish so that they can make up their food shortages", said Seo Yu-suk, research manager of North Korean Studies Institution in Seoul.

"It's after Kim Jong Un chose to expand the fisheries industry as a way of increasing revenue for the military".

The disturbing discoveries come days after a group of eight survivors washed ashore in the same area, claiming to be North Korean fisherman who had drifted there when the vessel developed problems. Authorities found eight skeletons when they searched the ship.

In January, 25 North Koreans were rescued from a sinking ship near the Goto Islands in Southwest Japan. Overfishing and starvation have driven North Korean fishermen into deeper and more treacherous water, and some of them don't make it back. The boat was carrying fishing equipment and they believe it was from North Korea because a Kim Jong-il lapel pin was found inside.

A total of 43 wooden ships that were believed to have come from the Korean peninsula washed up on Japanese shores or were seen to be drifting off Japan's coast from January to November 22 this year, compared with 66 ships for the whole of last year, the coast guard said.

About 30,000 North Koreans have defected since the devastating starvation in the mid-90s.

Several North Korean fishermen rescued earlier this month by Japanese authorities were also returned to the country, on their request, officials said, indicating that at least some of those washing up on their neighboring nation's shores are not attempting to flee there.

Television footage showed a wrecked vessel with an eight-digit number on it, which washed up on Oga peninsula on Sunday. The country has found many of them in recent years.

Choi Min-ho, a professor at Seoul National University College of Medicine who specializes in parasites, told CNN the use of human fertilizer on crops and poor sanitary conditions led to the transmission of parasitic cysts in North Korea.

"Everyone was hungry, even the soldiers", he said.

It is believed North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is increasingly pressuring the North Korean people to search for food and meet almost impossible fishing quotas.

High waves had prevented officials from investigating since the boat was first spotted on Friday, they said.