An unsettling mystery has washed up on Japan’s shores.
Over the past two months, at least eight wooden boats have been found in the Sea of Japan on or near the coast, carrying a chilling cargo — the decaying bodies of 20 people, Japan’s coast guard told CNN.
All of the bodies were badly decomposed and “partially skeletonized” — two were found without heads — and one boat contained six skulls, the coast guard said. The first boat was found in October, then a series of boats in late November.
Coast guard officials are now trying to unravel the riddle of where these ghostly boats came from and what happened to those on board.
Their best guess so far is that the ships are from North Korea.
One clue pointing that direction is Korean lettering on the hull of a boat containing 10 decomposing bodies, one of three boats which were found adrift off the city of Wajima on the west coast of Japan on November 20.
The writing said “Korean People’s Army,” the name of North Korea’s military defense forces, the coast guard said.