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Finding the truth (KOR)

June 24,2019
Circumstantial evidence of the government and military authorities having attempted to cover-up — and scale down — the incident involving a North Korean fishing boat allegedly defecting to South Korea on June 15 is mounting. According to a JoongAng Ilbo report, an emergency meeting was held in the underground bunker of the Ministry of National Defense the morning after the intrusion of the small North Korean vessel into South Korean waters. Suspicion has arisen that the National Defense Ministry discussed how to deal with the boat and its four fishermen, as well as how to explain the incident to the press.

The coast guard’s original report contained all the details about how the boat came to dock at Samcheok Harbor using its own engine — not drifting into the South. That suggests the likelihood that the military, Blue House and government authorities methodically lied to the people even though they were well aware of the truth from the beginning. They ended up changing the North Korean boat’s “voluntary entry into the port” to a “drifting.” Given the secret presence of a Blue House official in the emergency meeting, we can hardly rule out the possibility of the military and Blue House approaching the incident in close collaboration.

Despite the gravity of the issue involving our national security, Yoon Do-han, senior presidential secretary for public communications, insisted that the government did not cover-up or scale-back the incident. But it seems fishy for the government and military authorities to hurriedly wrap up the case. If they really want to calm public anxiety about our lax security, their excuses may make more sense. But if they really collaborated on the issue because of its possible impact on inter-Korean relations, that’s a serious problem. In fact, two of the four fishermen were sent back to North Korea through Panmunjom after brief interrogations.

The Ministry of Unification also said that the government had destroyed the boat. But it does not make sense for the government to dismantle the ship before a full investigation is over. It turned out that the vessel has been kept by the First East Sea Naval Fleet. We cannot shake off suspicions that the government has been lying.

The government must hold anyone involved in the cover-up accountable. It must get to the bottom of the case instead of simply delivering an apology by a senior Blue House official. The National Assembly must help find the truth behind the suspicious developments of the case by activating its standing committee meetings.