Vessel was cut in half while operating in North Korean sea.Wong-Jae Jang, Donga News
16 December 2016
North Korean submarine was cut in half in an accident whose cause is unknown, with all of its 12 crew members killed.
The Japanese daily Tokyo Shimbun quoted North Korean sources and intelligence authorities in neighboring countries as saying that a North Korean military submarine was cut in half in April while navigating under North Korean waters. What caused the accident was not known, according to the report. North Korea’s state-run media have never reported on the incident.
The bereaved families of the crew were informed of the submarine disaster weeks after it happened through local village heads. The North Korean government gave “hero” titles to the crew and new homes to their bereaved families. According to the Japanese daily, the youngest victim was a 19-year-old man, whose mother was witnessed wailing very loudly upon hearing the news of her son’s fate.
Later in the same month, North Korean media hyped about a “successful” missile launch from a submarine under waters off Sinpo, South Hamgyong Province. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un observed the submarine missile launch and expressed his satisfaction with the result, saying, "We are now capable of hitting the heads of the South Korean puppet forces and the U.S. imperialists anytime as we please.” A North Korean expert told the Japanese daily that the lives of the North Korean people are “like dust” to Kim Jong Un and that nuclear weapons are much more important to him.
The newspaper also cited multiple sources on North Korea as saying that Kim told a meeting of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea’s Central Military Commission meeting held after the fifth nuclear test in September that upgrading Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons was an “important project” to make the United States understand the North as a nuclear-possessing state.