SEOUL – Pyongyang denied Tuesday that it has engaged in espionage using a ship that shuttles between Japan and North Korea.
According to the official Korean Central News Agency, Rodong Shinmun, the newspaper of the Workers’ Party of (North) Korea, brushed aside Japanese media reports that the 9,672-ton Man Gyong Bong-92 has been involved in clandestine activities, claiming the ferry is used only to transport freight and passengers.
The report comes amid growing calls to bar the ship from Japanese ports.
The article slammed such calls, describing them as “a mean, hostile policy” against the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryun), a pro-Pyongyang group.
Such a policy is intended to crack down on Chongryun and hurt the dignity and honor of North Korea, the newspaper said, adding it could create a rift between North and South Korea, which are developing friendly ties toward unification.
Ties have been strained between Japan and North Korea since Pyongyang revealed in September that its agents had abducted Japanese in the 1970s and 1980s, as was long suspected, and over the North’s alleged nuclear weapons program.
The Man Gyong Bong-92, which shuttles across the Sea of Japan between Niigata and Wonsan, is used by Korean residents of Japan to visit North Korea and to carry food, electronic products and other necessities between the two countries.
There have been recent allegations that the ship carries covert operators to and from Japan and engages in other clandestine operations, and that Chongryun officials are linked to such activities.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.