Yoon invites Cheonan survivors, relatives of the dead

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Yoon invites Cheonan survivors, relatives of the dead

Navy officials pay their respects to the 46 soldiers who died in the sinking of the Cheonan at a memorial wall in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi on March 26. [YONHAP]

Navy officials pay their respects to the 46 soldiers who died in the sinking of the Cheonan at a memorial wall in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi on March 26. [YONHAP]

 
President Yoon Suk Yeol will invite survivors of the sinking of the Navy ship Cheonan, as well as relatives of sailors who died, to a memorial luncheon on Thursday, according to a People Power Party source on Sunday.  
 
The Cheonan was a naval corvette that sank in the Yellow Sea near Baengnyeong Island on March 26, 2010, following an explosion that caused the ship to break in half. Forty six sailors died and 58 were rescued.
 
A Joint Civilian-Military Investigation Group (JIG), a South Korean-led multinational investigative group, concluded that the Cheonan sank due to a non-contact underwater explosion caused by a North Korean torpedo that detonated close enough to the stern section of the hull to cause severe damage.
 
Choi Won-il, the Cheonan’s captain, is expected at the luncheon. Also invited are Lee Sung-woo, chairman of an association for fallen soldiers’ families, and relatives of emergency responder Han Joo-ho, who died during the post-sinking rescue operation.
 
Other invitees include the mother of fallen master sergeant Min Pyeong-ki, Yoon Cheong-ja, who donated the 108.98 million won ($87,178) she received in compensation for the Navy to buy 16 machine guns for another ship.  
 
“President Yoon took a special interest in veterans and relatives of those who fell during the Cheonan sinking during his presidential campaign,” said the PPP source, who spoke to the JoongAng Ilbo on condition of anonymity. “He wanted to express his condolences to the families of those who fell, and whose memory was tarnished by government indifference and rumormongers.”
 
Yoon met with Choi and Lee on Nov. 17 during his presidential campaign and criticized the administration of former President Moon Jae-in for not formally placing blame on North Korea for the sinking of the ship.
 
During a 2020 ceremony commemorating those who fell in defense of the Yellow Sea over the decades, President Moon was confronted by Yoon Cheong-ja, who demanded he tell her who was responsible for the Cheonan's sinking.
 
Moon responded that North Korea was responsible.
 
The Presidential Truth Commission on Deaths in the Military under Moon controversially approved a reinvestigation of the Cheonan sinking to examine a claim that the ship sank after running aground.
 
The commission’s chairman, Lee In-lam, resigned in April last year after the decision to reopen the probe sparked outrage from survivors and their families. 
 

BY MICHAEL LEE [lee.junhyuk@joongang.co.kr]
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