South Korea defense minister confirms Kim Yong Chol behind attack

Kim Yong Chol, a vice chairman of the ruling Workers' Party's Central Committee, seen in hat in center back, was confirmed to be the chief person responsible for the attack on the South Korean warship Cheonan in 2010. Photo by Jean-Christophe Bott/EPA-EFE

March 1 (UPI) — South Korea’s defense ministry confirmed a visiting North Korean official was behind the attack on the Cheonan and that the North attacked the South Korean warship by deploying a reconnaissance submarine.

The confirmation from Defense Minister Song Young-moo came Wednesday, a few days after Kim Yong Chol, a vice chairman of the ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Committee, had left the South after attending the closing ceremony of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, when he was seated only a few feet away from Ivanka Trump.

Song said, “I believe that to be the case,” when independent lawmaker Rep. Lee Jung-hyun asked whether a North Korean reconnaissance submarine was behind the 2010 attack on the Cheonan.

Kim was the chief of the North Korean reconnaissance bureau at the time.

Song’s assessment corroborates the widespread belief Kim is responsible for the death of 46 South Korean seamen and contradicts statements from the South Korean administration last week declaring there is no clear confirmation Kim was behind the attack, local television network SBS reported Thursday.

Seoul had stated South Korea should receive Kim “in a big way” and that Kim should be allowed to visit to “maintain the momentum of inter-Korea dialogue,” according to SBS.

Kim is connected to the fatal attack, but he also maintains a track record of engaging in inter-Korea dialogue.

In his previous meetings with Seoul’s negotiators, Kim was known for making curt remarks about the racial purity of Koreans and raising tensions to extract better concessions from the South during talks, South Korean newspaper Kyunghyang Shinmun reported Thursday.

But sources who spoke to the Kyunghyang said Kim appeared more contrite in his most recent visit, and that the “burden of responsibility [for Cheonan] was written over his face.”

According to the South Korean newspaper, Kim was the official who told a South Korean counterpart in 2006, “Not even one drop of ink [non-Korean blood] must be allowed,” when discussing rising multiculturalism in the South Korean population.


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