By Bae Ji-sook
The state-run broadcaster KBS aired an investigative program that refutes the latest governmental report on the cause of the sinking of the frigate Cheonan in March.
The program raised several suspicions over the report released by a multinational team of investigators. KBS TV’s investigative journal, “In Depth 60-minutes,” aired on Wednesday night, reported that the adhesive material found on the body of the vessel and torpedo components was not Alxoy, which the state-led joint investigation team claimed as residue resulting from the explosion.
Instead, professor Chung Ki-young of Andong National University, who has conducted several examinations of the samples, told the program that it was amorphous basaluminite, something that must have collected and built up over a long period of time.
The program also alleged that the government has tried to conceal several key factors that could conflict with their conclusion that pinpointed a North Korean torpedo attack for causing the tragedy.
For instance, the defense ministry did not disclose the weapons loaded on the warship, which they have vowed to show some doubting lawmakers. Instead, the weapons were hastily discarded, the program revealed.
The show’s directors also claimed that some crucial testimonies from witnesses — soldiers on board the ship or military staffers guarding the nearby posts on land who reportedly said they witnessed a “large column of water” — were highly likely to have been manipulated.
The original script of the conversation contained no such content anywhere, the program said. It also alleged that these suspicions have repeatedly been raised by civic groups since the release of the report in September. “We need a second look into the case all over again,” the program director said at the end of the program.
The broadcast was the first of its kind since the announcement of the governmental conclusion. KBS admitted that the military authorities tried to prevent the broadcast of the “sensitive” content. A high ranking official at the TV network tried to replace the program with a BBC documentary film up to the very last minute.
According to the official state report, the Cheonan was split into two and sunk by a North Korean torpedo attack while conducting a normal mission in the vicinity of Baegnyeong Island at 9:22 p.m. on March 26.
The ship was split due to a shockwave and bubble effect generated by the underwater explosion of a torpedo. The weapons system used in the attack was a torpedo with about 250 kilograms of explosives manufactured and used by North Korea.