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Point Man on N. Korea Calls Water Discharge ‘Intentional’

Point Man on N. Korea Calls Water Discharge ‘Intentional’

Posted September. 10, 2009 08:27,   


Unification Minister Hyun In-taek said yesterday that North Korea’s unannounced water discharge from a dam that took the lives of six South Korean campers was clearly intentional.

Hyun said this to the National Assembly’s Unification, Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee when asked by lawmakers if the water discharge from the Hwanggang Dam was accidental or intentional.

He is the first government official in Seoul to say the water discharge Sunday morning was intentional.

“North Korea announced that it discharged water without notification. That means it was neither an accident nor a mistake. That means North Korea acknowledges it discharged water intentionally. The government has investigated what kind of intention North Korea had.”

When asked if Pyongyang knew that an unannounced water discharge could kill South Koreans, the minister said, “You can think so.”

“North Korean authorities in charge of the case should provide an explanation and apology,” he added.

Seoul will consider whether to ask Pyongyang to provide financial compensation.

In a report to the National Assembly, the Unification Ministry confirmed that the water came from the Hwanggang Dam located upstream of the Imjin River. It had earlier described the water as having come from “a dam located upstream of the Imjin River.”

According to the report, construction of the dam was finished in February this year. With a capacity of 300 million to 400 million tons, the dam is in the village of Hwanggang in Tosan County, North Hwanghae Province, 27 kilometers north of the demilitarized zone.

Tosan had rainfall of 346 millimeters Aug. 26-27 and other nearby counties saw more than 200 millimeters. Over the first six days of this month, however, Tosan and other nearby counties had less than 0.2 millimeters of precipitation.

In a meeting with the National Defense Committee, the Defense Ministry and the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Seoul said in a statement, “We’re responsible for not informing military units training near the Imjin River as well as the government and citizens of North Korea’s water discharge.”

A committee member said, “The information was not immediately sent to authorities in charge such as the Joint Chiefs of Staff since frontline officials made a misjudgment.”

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