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Cause of Cheonan`s Sinking Could Forever Remain Mystery

Posted March. 30, 2010 03:01,   


The sinking of the naval patrol ship Cheonan could forever remain a mystery because of the difficulty in proving the cause, experts say.

The Cheonan reportedly entered waters 1.8 kilometers southwest of Baengnyeong Island in the Yellow Sea in following an emergency route to evade high waves and rough seas on the day of the accident.

Government sources and military officials said the exact cause of the sinking will be disclosed only after a close inspection of the Cheonan’s stern is conducted. Yet chances are high that the vessel sank because of an explosion caused by a mine.

Even if a mine explosion is judged to be the cause, experts say determining who installed the mine will be difficult.

A military official said, “To identify the owner of the mine, even a small piece of the mine’s debris must be found, but this will be extremely difficult to find in a muddy seabed.”

“With no evidence on hands, it will be impossible to find the attacker on just suspicion.”

A government source also said, “Exact evidence is also needed to prove that North Korea is responsible for the disaster, as some people are saying, but I doubt if that is possible. Ultimately, the cause of this accident could remain a mystery forever.”

Saying the Cheonan debacle was reminiscent of the North’s 1987 bombing of a Korean Air flight,” the source added, “At the time, had the bomber Kim Hyon-hee had not been caught, the cause of the explosion would have forever remained unresolved.”

mhpark@donga.com zeitung@donga.com