A North Korean defector has claimed that young leader Kim Jong-un ordered the attack on the South Korean warship, Cheonanham, which was sunk in the West Sea on March 26, 2010, killing 40 sailors and leaving six others missing.
The Daily NK, an online news outlet about issues involving North Korea, reported Tuesday that Choi Young-pil, who defected to the South last May, said the attack was made by the North in retaliation for its defeat in the inter-Korean marine skirmish in the West Sea in November, 2009.
Choi told the website that he heard about “the order of Kim Jong-un” from a navy officer who was released from the navy unit which fought against its South Korean counterpart in the Daecheong skirmish at that time
This is the first time that the South has heard that North Korea was involved in the attack in a testimony a North Korean defector has ever made
“All the injured sailors should be returned to the same unit, after being cured completely at any cost at No. 11 Hospital (People’s Army Hospital in Pyongyang). I’ll be determined to wage a revenge war with them,” North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was quoted as saying, when the North was severely damaged by the South in the Daecheong naval war at that time.
“North Korean residents have never suspected about the attack made by North Korea’s People’s Army as North Koreans said, ‘We defeated them’ at that time,” Choi told the web paper.
In particular, “Even now, North Korean ranking officials take considerable pride that the North submarine sank the South Korean warship,” Choi added.
Choi also said, “The organization secretary of Musan County chapter of the Communist Party said boastfully at a running event, ‘A hero has come home in Musan now on special leave for his contribution to the sinking of the South Korean warship.’”
The secretary Kim Gwang hosted a party for the marathoner, identified by his family name, Sin, who won the event at the Mangyeong Athletes Contest in April, 2010, and the soliders.
“It’s a great glory for our county to have two heroes produced like this,” said secretary Kim at the party. “One is a submarine sailor who sank a South Korean warship and another is a marathon winner.”
North Korea’s party staff members said in political lectures to residents when the South Korean warship was sunk, “Our navy took a clean revenge on the enemy
But the North refuted the outcome of the inspection into sunk warship by a joint investigation team of the Ministry of National Defense that it was sunk in an attack of a torpedo by the North Korea’s submarine as a “Super Plot.”
On March 26, the second anniversary of the tragic attack of, North Korea has insisted that “We have no relations with the sinking of the Cheonan.”
26일 북한전문매체 <데일리NK>는 작년 5월 한국에 온 탈북자 최영필(가명)씨의 말을 인용, 천안함 공격은 2009년 11월 서해상에서 발생한 '대청해전'의 복수전이었다고 보도했다.
최씨는 대청해전 당시 우리 해군과 교전을 벌인 부대에서 제대한 군관에게서 '김정은의 지시'를 직접 전해들었다고 했다.
국내 입국 탈북자의 증언을 통해 북한의 천안함 폭침 정황 증거가 전해지기는 이번이 처음이다.
북한이 당시 대청해전에서 크게 패하자 김정은이 "부상당한 군인들을 모두 11호병원(평양 인민군병원)에 보내 무조건 완치시켜 본래 부대에 복대시켜라. 나는 이들과 함께 복수전을 할 결심이다"라고 지시했다는 것이다.
최씨는 "당시 북한에서도 '우리가 까부셨다'고 선전했던 만큼 북한 주민들 역시 인민군 소행을 전혀 의심하지 않았다"고 말했다.
특히 "북한 간부들은 천안함을 침몰시킨 것에 대해 지금도 상당한 자부심을 갖고 있다"고 덧붙였다.
최씨는 또 "무산군당 조직비서가 한 행사에서 '남조선 군함을 까부신 영웅이 표창휴가를 받아 지금 무산의 집에 내려왔다'며 자랑스러워했다"고 말했다.
김광 무산군 당위원회 조직비서는 2010년 4월 만경대상 체육경기 마라톤대회 우승자인 심모 군 등을 위한 축하연을 열었다.
김 비서는 이 자리에서 "우리 군(郡)에서 영웅이 동시에 2명이 나온 것은 다시 볼 수 없는 영광이다. 남조선 군함을 격파한 잠수정 영웅과 마라톤 우승자를 동시에 냈다"라고 했다.
천안함 폭침 당시 북한 당 간부들은 주민 정치강연회에서 "우리 군대가 원쑤들에게 통쾌한 보복을 안겨줬다"는 발언을 한 바 있다.