South Korean Navy's Ship Salvage Unit members on rubber boats search for missing sailors of the sunken South Korean navy ship Cheonan off South Korea's Baengnyeong Island, Apr. 3, 2010.
"The Sinking of South Korea's Naval Vessel: A Major Turning Point"
On the Issues
Policy Memo, United States Institute of Peace
Author: John S. Park, Associate, Project on Managing the Atom
"The Cheonan, a 1,200-ton South Korean naval vessel, sank on March 26 when an explosion split it apart in one of the country's worst naval disasters. Of the 104-member crew, 58 were rescued soon after the sinking. Following the recent salvaging of the bow and stern sections, 40 bodies were recovered inside. Six crewmembers are still missing and presumed dead.1 North Korea has officially denied involvement and accused South Korean President Lee Myung-bak of using this tragedy to bolster support for his hard-line North Korea policy.
The Cheonan sank near the Northern Limit Line (NLL) — a disputed maritime demarcation line in the Yellow Sea — where the two Koreas have already fought three naval skirmishes since 1999. The most recent clash occurred in November and left one North Korean sailor dead and three others wounded. Unilaterally established by the U.S.-led United Nations forces in August 1953, the NLL is not officially recognized by North Korea.
USIP's John Park answers some questions regarding the ramifications of the Cheonan incident and the impact on potential Six-Party Talks with North Korea...."
1The U.S. Navy assisted in the rescue efforts, which later became recovery and salvage operations. http://www.pacom.us.com/PhotoArchive.aspx?id=125
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