Two Crew Members From Missing North Korean Ship Found Dead in Japan

The partially decomposed bodies of two North Korean sailors were found in the waters off Japan this weekend. Both sailors had been crew members on a North Korean cargo ship that went missing in late December.

The first sailor was discovered on Saturday in Itoigawa, Niigata Prefecture. A North Korean loyalty badge was found in his possession along with $290 in U.S. currency. The second body was found Sunday near Japan's Oga Peninsula. He was reportedly carrying a metal tube containing photographs of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Un. NK News speculates the photos were taken from the ship's bridge, perhaps saved by the sailor out of loyalty or to protect himself.

The sailors were crew members aboard the Taegakbong, a large cargo ship which went adrift on December 17 after an engine failure disabled the ship's navigation system and steering controls. 24 crew members escaped the ship on a life raft, and North Korean authorities were reportedly notified of the incident, though it remains unclear if the other crew members were rescued..

It's still unknown what happened to the Taegakbong or its cargo, but NK News notes it's publicly listed as being “under repair” in a port town on North Korea's west coast.

[NK News/Photo from defenseimagery.mil via NK News]