Americans Won't Forget Cheonan Sinking

  • By Lee Ha-won, the Chosun Ilbo's correspondent in Washington

    September 01, 2010 12:44

    Lee Ha-won

    U.S. President Barack Obama issued an executive order on Monday freezing North Korean assets and imposing travel bans against North Koreans. Obama cited the attack against the South Korean Navy corvette Cheonan, which killed 46 sailors, as a major reason for the new sanctions.

    The executive order includes North Korea's Reconnaissance Bureau, the body responsible for the sinking; its bureau chief Kim Yong-chol, who was directly linked to the attack; and Green Pine Associated Corporation, an arms exporter accused of selling CHT-02D torpedoes used to sink the Cheonan.

    U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley, after Obama's executive order went into effect at noon, explained the sanctions against North Korea and called the sinking an "act of war." When asked whether the U.S. government would continue using the term "act of war," Crowley said "yes." At 3 p.m. over at the Commerce Department, Treasury Undersecretary Stewart Levy, who handles terrorist funding, and Robert Einhorn, the new U.S. special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control, appeared before reporters, and Levy also mentioned Obama's executive order and reminded them of the 46 sailors who were killed aboard the Cheonan.

    In March, when the incident occurred, U.S. officials referred to the vessel as a "Korean naval ship." But as the months progressed, U.S. officials began to refer to the ship as "the Cheonan." One U.S. military officer, who flew with Defense Secretary Robert Gates in July, even asked me if he was pronouncing "Cheonan" correctly. That shows how much significance the U.S. attaches to the sinking. It is being slowly forgotten in South Korea but still remains fresh on the minds of Americans.

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