KYOTO – The cremated remains of a man who was found dead on a North Korean boat in Japanese waters earlier this month have been handed over to the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, coast guard officials said.
The man’s body was cremated by the Japanese Red Cross Society at a crematorium in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, before being handed over Thursday to the group, which is also known as Chongryon. The group serves as the de facto government mission for North Korea in Japan.
In the absence of diplomatic ties between the two countries, the cremated remains were handed over after the Red Cross’s North Korean counterpart picked Chongryon as a proxy, the Red Cross said. The boat was found anchored in the Sea of Japan off Okinoshima Island near Shimane Prefecture on Jan. 6 with three men and the dead body on board.
The vessel had drifted from North Korean waters because of mechanical trouble, according to the coast guard. One of the crew members apparently died from hypothermia while the boat was adrift at sea.
The three men asked to be returned to North Korea and were subsequently handed over to the North Korean side in the Chinese city of Dalian on Jan. 9.