Accident, not North Korean submarine, sank Chenoan
By Deirdre Griswold
Published Jun 10, 2010 10:17 AM
The hawkish regime of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, with Washington’s backing, has moved to take the case of the Cheonan warship disaster to the U.N. Security Council, charging that the ship was sunk by a submarine from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
This move comes more than two months after the ship went down on March 26 and just after elections in South Korea in which Lee’s right-wing party, the Grand National Party, had tried to use a scare campaign around the sinking of the ship to bolster its flagging support.
The DPRK has vehemently denied any role in the sinking. Its request to send a team to the south to inspect the “evidence” the Lee government claims to possess has been rejected.
The imperialist media, in a replay of their subservient role to the Bush administration’s charges that Iraq possessed “weapons of mass destruction” justifying an invasion of that country, have treated the charges against the DPRK as an open-and-shut case.
But an extensive article by an independent Canadian journalist, Stephen Gowans, shows that even the South Korean military and intelligence authorities said nothing of the sort for weeks after the ship went down. (See gowans.wordpress.com.)
Testifying before a parliamentary committee in early April, Won See-hoon, director of South Korea’s National Intelligence, said there was no evidence linking the DPRK to the disaster.
South Korean Minister of Defense Kim Tae-young pointed out that the Cheonan’s crew had not detected a torpedo. Lee Ki-sik, head of the marine operations office at the South Korean joint chiefs of staff, said, “No North Korean warships have been detected ... [in] the waters where the accident took place.”
An accident. No submarines. No torpedoes.
However, the Lee regime pressed ahead with its charges, getting full support from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration.
It appointed what it called an “international investigating team,” which turned out to be basically the U.S. and South Korea, to come up with the conclusion that a minisubmarine from the north had somehow sneaked into the heavily defended, shallow waters around Baengnyeong Island and sunk the ship.
What hasn’t been mentioned in the Western media is that Shin Sang-cheol, one of the members of the taskforce that investigated the sinking of the Cheonan, was replaced for “arousing public mistrust in the probe.” Shin had “repeatedly claimed that the sinking was just an accident, and that the South had tampered with evidence to blame the North.” (“Probe member summoned on false rumor allegations,” JoongAng Daily, May 29)
And when Park Sun-won, the secretary for national security under former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun, accused the Lee administration of concealing information about the sinking, he too was investigated by the present regime for “spreading false rumors.”
Gowans’ article documents all these developments with quotes from the South Korean press, including the Korea Herald, Korea Times, Choson Ilbo, Hankyoreh and JoongAng Daily.
The attempt by the Lee regime to turn this naval disaster into a propaganda coup for its party appears to have failed. The party lost more local offices than it gained, according to the latest news reports.
The days when politicians linked to U.S. imperialism’s global ambitions could force their agendas down the people’s throats appear to be waning. In Japan, once the colonial ruler over all of Korea, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama had to resign at the beginning of June after huge demonstrations over his betrayal of election promises to get rid of a U.S. military base in Okinawa that had been a thorn in the side of the people there.
In this day of the Internet, the world no longer need be held hostage by the giant corporate news media. The lies these organs of big business have spread to justify wars, going back to the cynical role of the Hearst papers in promoting U.S. imperialism’s bloody conquest of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines in 1898, can be quickly dispelled. Hopefully, this will help the people of the U.S. gain a truer picture of Korea, its sufferings under first Japanese and then U.S. domination, and the need for solidarity with the Korean people’s desire for reunification and an end to U.S. occupation of the south.
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