S Korean NGO comes under fire for writing to U.N. over ship sinking

16:49, June 18, 2010      

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It would not be too much of an exaggeration to say that no other South Korean NGOs came close to this particular Seoul-based liberal civic group, People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD), in garnering explosive attention and creating ideologically divisive responses by one single action: sending a letter to the United Nations.

The seemingly harmless act instantly turned one of the well- known civic organizations in South Korea into a lightning rod for outrage from the government, the prosecution and rightist groups here, with all of them questioning, or even seeking to criminals, the organization's national and ideological identity.

The group, in the letter in question, raised doubts over credibility of the probe conducted by a multinational team of investigators, which concluded in May that Pyongyang torpedoed the 1,200-ton corvette Cheonan in late March, killing 46 sailors.

It said that the probe results left many critical questions unanswered, including how exactly a DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) submarine infiltrated into South Korean waters, and suggested in a statement that the Seoul-led investigation jumped to a conclusion for political gains.

The move by the PSPD, now cornered by a series of right-wing protests that involve severe verbal abuse and scuffles, came as a shock to the South Korean government as Seoul intensifies its diplomatic drive at the U.N. Security Council to convince the Council members to jointly censure Pyongyang for the tragedy, one of the worst in the country's naval history.

Pyongyang, denying its involvement and claiming the findings were fabricated, also made its own case at the Council in what might be a harbinger of a bitter diplomatic battle ahead.

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