Japanese authorities have launched an investigation after a “ghost ship” containing a dead and nearly decomposed crew was spotted floating aimlessly off the coast in recent days.
According to the U.K. Express, the ship and crew were virtually unidentifiable, save for a tattered North Korean flag that still flew and faded markings on the hull that partially read “Korean People’s Army,” revealing the origin of the “ghost ship.”
From Conservative Tribune:
Despite autopsies being performed on the bodies, which revealed they had been dead for at least a few months, it was virtually impossible to determine a cause of death due to the advanced stage of decomposition of the bodies.
If this story sounds eerily familiar, that’s because it is, as “ghost ships” manned with dead crews from North Korea wash ashore on Japan’s west coast on a fairly regular basis, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times in April 2016.
That report revealed that similar ships, though not always carrying a decomposing crew, have washed ashore by the dozens each year for the past several years.
“This isn’t something new for us, so people are just saying ‘oh no, not again,’” Shizuo Kakutani, a 71-year-old retired fisherman living in a quiet fishing village known as Monzen, told the Times.
Initially, it was thought that the dead crews were defectors who had futilely attempted to flee the oppressive communist regime in North Korea, but most North Korean defectors flee by sea down the coast to South Korea or travel north overland to China.
Further inspection of the ships and bodies have revealed that they were most likely fishing vessels manned by inexperienced crews of civilians or soldiers who had become lost or stranded in the deep waters of the Sea of Japan, most likely dying from starvation, exposure or hypothermia.
A report from The Japan Times in December 2015 revealed that, save for some rudimentary fishing equipment and a minuscule amount of personal belongings, the typically wooden, tarred-hull ships are astonishingly barren, not outfitted with GPS units or other modern navigation equipment that would seemingly be standard fare on a vessel intended to ply the high seas.
Experts on North Korea explained that in response to the dire lack of farm food grown under the North Korean communist regime, dictator Kim Jong Un had set lofty goals for the nation’s fishing industry to bring in more fish to feed the starving nation, prompting the inexperienced and ill-equipped crews and ships to press farther out into dangerous waters to meet the near-impossible quotas.