New theory in sinking of South Korean ship


A Kaiten Type I, located at the Tokyo Yasukuni War Memorial Museum.

It’s no secret that many in the South Korean military and government have cast a suspicious, if not accusatory eye at their neighbor to the north regarding last month’s sinking of a corvette that left 46 dead.

Moments ago, the South Korean newspaper Choson Ilbo reported that some military officials are now focusing their attention on “human torpedoes.’

These aren’t your typical suicide bombers. They trace their origins to the “kaiten” (lit. “the Heaven Shaker“), Japanese underwater suicide bombers put into action at the end of World War II. North Korea’s human torpedo units belong to the 17th Sniper Corps and are deployed in both the East and West seas at the brigade level, according to the report. The units are made up of elite, SEAL-type troops.

The unit is said to be trained to use semi-submersible vessels equipped with light torpedoes or other explosives, which are fired or placed on their intended targets at close range.

Park Sun-young, a lawmaker with the Liberty Forward Party, told the South Korean National Assembly a three-man team aboard a Seal Deliver Vehicle laden with explosives could have sunk the Cheonan.


About Author

A Navy brat who spent eight years in the Marines (two years aboard the carrier Independence). Worked in journalism in Eastern North Carolina through the latter part of the 90s, then became editor of Air Force Times in 2000. Stayed there five years, then took a break to finish some school. Now back in the game with Navy Times.


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