Extra! Korea

March 28, 2010

(Updated) Could a mine have sunk South Korea’s vessel?

Filed under: North Korea — extrakorea @ 2:52 am

There’s still no public announcement as to the cause of the sinking of the South Korean vessel. ROK Drop has a post in which he links to various sources that claim that the explosion was caused by something from outside of the ship. If that is so, what could it have been? One suggestion has been a mine. If so, then whose mine? Perhaps ours.

Now if it were an external cause and it were a mine — it could be one of “ours.” Look at the islands in the West Sea. Were there a Nork attack, we’d want to mine the area between them– and that means we almost certainly already have done so, by mines that are on the seabed ready to be detonated by electrical impulses from shore. They could also have a secondary pressure trigger if the electric signal was cut. So there could have been a mistake.

It’s also possible that the ship had wandered off course or the mine could have broken loose from its moorings.

Could it have been a North Korean mine? Here’s my theory, and you can decide for yourselves if I need a tinfoil hat or not. There have been three previous clashes in that area, in 1999, 2002, and 2009. In all three incidents, the North Koreans suffered more casualties. Knowing that that they can’t win a straight-up fight with the technologically-superior south, they decided to mine the area. According to some sources, the North Koreans were in that area earlier that same day. (Is it illegal to mine disputed waterways? I think so, but am not sure.)

If it was a North Korean mine, then it would be the worst casualties that the south has suffered since 1967, when 39 sailors were killed by North Korean artillery. And could this lead to an escalation of conflict?

Paul Chamberlin, a former US naval attache to South Korea, told Al Jazeera: “If it becomes clear this was an attack from North Korea, a major escalation that would lead to general war is very unlikely.”


The possibility that it was a mine has now been publicly put forth.

Sea mines might have caused the tragic sinking of a South Korean naval ship, U.S. experts said Saturday, dismissing concerns over possible North Korean involvement.

[ snip ]

Feffer disagreed with the assumption that North Korea attacked the South Korean naval vessel, noting this incident is different from the previous clashes that involved fishing boats of the two Koreas crossing their sea border.
“There have been naval clashes between North and South in the past, but these have usually involved rising tensions, warnings, fishing boats crossing the NLL,” he said. “But this was, as far as we know, a surprise. And there was no larger reason why the North might engage in such a surprise attack.”

[ snip ]

Bruce Klingner, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, described the unexplained explosion as “an oddity in an era of sophisticated ships and communication,” raising a sea mine as a possible cause.

“Although initial media reports suggested a North Korean torpedo as the cause, that interpretation now appears to be the result of overeager reporters,” he said. “Seoul is now downplaying the likelihood of North Korean involvement in the explosion and sinking. A survivor of the sinking insists there was no onboard explosion, leading to speculation the cause was a naval mine, either South Korean or one that had drifted from the North.”

That still wouldn’t explain why the mine hit a South Korean ship but didn’t hit any of the North Korean ships that had been in that same area earlier that same day. That it was a mine that had been planted there by the North Koreans still makes the most sense to me.


  1. If it turns out that this was an accident, folks are not going to be happy. This will be the third military accident in a month. If SK is going to force their men on these ships they could at least make sure they don’t run over their own goddamn mines. Bejeezuz.

    Here is my take on a right wing bloggers assertion that it was, an act of war, “no doubt”.


    Comment by B. Campbell — March 29, 2010 @ 6:58 am

  2. […] vessel’s sinking Filed under: North Korea — extrakorea @ 10:02 am It looks like my hunch now has some support. Of the four possible causes — internal explosion, collision with a […]

    Pingback by Mine now considered “most likely cause” of vessel’s sinking « Extra! Korea — March 29, 2010 @ 10:02 am

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