By Lee Tae-hoon
The Ministry of National Defense has urged the National Assembly to replace a member of a joint civilian-military investigation team for allegedly spreading groundless rumors about the cause of the sinking of a warship in late March.
"The ministry has formally requested to replace Shin Sang-chul, an expert recommended by the main opposition Democratic Party (DP)," a senior military official said.
"He is not qualified to work as part of the investigation team, as he has been spreading malicious rumors, as well as lacks expertise and has been insincere in his participation in the probe."
Shin recently drew media attention for flatly denying the possibility of a North Korean submarine's torpedo attack on the 1,200-ton Cheonan and accusing the United States for the Naval tragedy.
He insisted that it is highly likely that the Cheonan sank on March 26 due to a collision with a U.S. warship and Washington is trying to cover up the truth.
Shin majored in oceanography at Korea Marine University and served in the Navy as a junior commissioned officer.
He also worked for a large shipbuilding company for seven years. He currently serves as president of seoprise.com, a liberal online political Webzine.
Meanwhile, the DP refused to replace him due to time constraints, saying the investigation is expected to conclude only a week later.
The government has announced that it is planning to reveal the outcomes of the investigation around May 20.