They are being called "North Korean ghost ships" and they are washing up in a disturbing quantity on Japan's shores. The fact that these ships have dead bodies on board makes the situation even more chilling. Japanese officials aren't sure if the bodies belonged to North Korean citizens seeking refuge or North Korean fishermen who got off course but they are almost certain that the boats belong to North Korea due to certain signs such as the boats matching vessels that have been confirmed from North Korea. Seigakuin professor and North Korea expert Satoru Miyamoto (not on Nintendo fame) said that the number of "ghost ships" washing up on shorelines has drastically increased since 2013 and especially now more than ever.
Japanese officials discovered eight skeletons in the hull of one wooden boat that was found on Japan's Miyazawa beach on Nov. 27, 2017. The Akita Coast Guard was able to tell that the boat carrying the skeleton crew had just recently washed ashore. What is especially troubling is that this is yet another incident added to a growing list in recent days.
CNN first reported that on Nov. 23, 2017, eight North Korean citizens were rescued by Japan's Coast Guard crewmembers when their boat washed ashore. Officials noted that the men were hungry and in poor health. On Nov. 17, 2017, four dead bodies were found on a boat which had washed ashore to almost the exact same area as another boat that was discovered on Nov. 15, 2017, in which three North Korean men were also rescued by the Coast Guard. The next day, investigators found three dead bodies in the same boat. The North Korean survivors, as well as the bodies of the deceased, were returned to North Korea.
Professor Miyamoto said that the increase of the lost ships washing up can be attributed to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's decision to expand the fishing industry as a way to increase revenue for the military. He also explained that the boats being used are older and are being manned by people who don't have a big knowledge base about fishing so the likelihood of the "ghost ships" continuing to wash ashore is high.
International experts call this a "desperate situation." Back in 2015, more than twelve "ghost ships" were discovered with dead bodies on board. It has been said that North Korea's food shortage could be the cause of some of the problem. Driven by desperation, some believe that the bodies on board were seeking a way to make ends meet and to establish a more stable source of food. Whatever the case, it seems as though this continuing problem won't end until there is a plan of action of help the citizens of North Korea with their food shortage.