Go to contents

Lawmaker Presses Rumored US Role in Sinking

Posted April. 27, 2010 17:03,   


An opposition lawmaker is known to have argued with the defense minister last week over a rumor on U.S. involvement in the sinking of the naval patrol ship Cheonan.

Rep. Park Young-sun of the main opposition Democratic Party reportedly did this Friday while visiting the Defense Ministry and the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a member of the special parliamentary committee on probing the sinking.

Party lawmakers who accompanied Park said Monday that she asked questions hinting at the sinking being caused by an erroneous bombing by a U.S. nuclear submarine that participated in the joint military drill Foal Eagle in talks with Defense Minister Kim Tae-young.

Park demanded that the ministry submit materials on the possibility of an erroneous U.S. bombing.

An angry Kim reportedly responded by saying, “You’ll have to make an official request at the National Assembly. But I won’t be able to submit the requested materials in my lifetime because they don’t exist.”

Park then said, “A minister should not talk like that,” after which an argument between she and Kim ensued, according to participants.

She also questioned why U.S. Ambassador to Seoul Kathleen Stephens and U.S. Forces Korea Commander Walter Sharp visited the Korean destroyer Dokdo and commended the U.S. military and the Korean Navy’s ship salvage unit. “An act by the U.S. ambassador holds significance, as well as why she visited there.”

On if she received a third party report or materials supporting her suspicion, Park told The Dong-A Ilbo over the phone Sunday, “I cannot tell you anything. I’ll tell you after all the information is collected and I reach a conclusion.”

The rumor on U.S. involvement in the sinking started March 29 when a news report carried the headline, “Cheonan sinking allegedly caused by an erroneous bombing in a Korea-U.S. joint military drill.” Different versions of related reports are circulating on the Internet.

At the time, the Korean military demanded a correction to the report and sued the reporter of the story for defamation. The media outlet carried a correction early this month, saying “It was an erroneous report whose factual basis was not confirmed.”

A source at the Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said, “The Foal Eagle drill was underway March 26 when the Cheonan sank, but the drill was conducted in waters off Taean County in South Chungcheong Province, not near waters off Baengnyeong Island.”

mhpark@donga.com polaris@donga.com