The Mary Celeste

I don’t like ghosts. In my opinion you should really just go away after you die. There’s no reason to stay around to scare people – it’s just weird. Ghost ships are much better. Also known as phantom vessels, a ghost ship is any kind of boat found without a living crew. Whether by abandonment or by their crew dying at sea, countless ghost ships have been discovered through history. Perhaps the most notorious was the Mary Celeste, an American vessel discovered on the other side of the Atlantic. In 1872 she was found drifting aimlessly in the ocean.

Ghost ships from history

There was no sign of any crew member but their cargo and personal belongings were still there. It was as if they vanished into thin air. The crew were never seen again and still now their fate remains a mystery. All kinds of theories were put forward to explain the disappearance. They range from a giant squid attack to alien abduction. Most likely they simply abandoned ship and died before reaching land. But there was no obvious reason for them to do so – with no lack of supplies or damage to the ship. And so the Mary Celeste would go down as history’s most well known ghost ship. But ghost ships are not just a historical occurrence. Across the world they occasionally wash up on shores, with certain areas known as hot spots. Among the most active is the Sea of Japan.

North Korean Ghost Ships

Every year more than a hundred ghost ships wash up on the Japanese coast, all of which from North Korea. Often small and with Korean writing on it’s side, their appearance has long confused those who discover them. They are clearly small fishing boats, which would be ill suited to long voyages. But North Korea is over a thousand kilometers from Japan. To many in Japan it’s a sign something much stranger is going on. Perhaps the boats are used by spies surveilling the Japanese coast. Or maybe they were used by defectors hoping to flee North Korea. Either way the boats are usually found without anyone on board. Some even contain dead bodies.

One boat was recently found with two decapitated heads inside and no one knows why. The generally accepted theory is that they are fishing boats who operate in the waters of Korea. But somehow going too far out, are stranded at sea and washed all the way to Japan. They are found without GEP, radios, or electric motors, speaking to the poverty of North Korean fishing villages. In recent years the number of ghost ships has increased rapidly. Some claim North Korean waters have been overfished by starving locals. This causes fishermen to venture increasingly far into the ocean, thereby making them more likely to get lost at sea. With North Korea being so poor, it’s unlikely their coast guard give any attention to civilian craft. So any fishermen who do get lost at sea are in big trouble.

A North Korean Mystery

But still, some do not believe this explanation. One theory is that an illegal fleet of Chinese ships are fishing in North Korean waters. Desperate to not be caught in the act, they murder anyone to encounter them. This would explain why so many of the North Koreans are found dead. Especially the two that were beheaded. But like so many other theories there is no evidence for it. Some believe a Bermuda-like mystery triangle exists in the Sea of Japan, pulling those aboard boats into a parallel universe. Bizarrely, the waters south of Japan have long been said to house a mystery triangle of it’s own.

Ghost ships from North Korea

Known as the Devil’s Sea, it stretches almost all the way to Indonesia. Since the 1950s ships have been documented as disappearing here, with hundreds of crew vanishing with them. Could it be Japan is surrounded on either side by magical oceans? Probably not, because there’s no such thing as magic. But there is such a thing as North Korea.

The Moral of The Story

In 2017 a group of North Koreans were found alive in Japanese waters, somehow surviving the journey. Having been blown off course, they actually requested to be sent back home, believing Japan was a land of anarchy and chaos. Such is taught by North Korean propaganda. Investigating them and all the other ghost ships is very expensive to the Japanese government. Especially when it comes to repatriating corpses as the two countries are not good friends. Ghost ships have also been found in Russian territory. People tend to forget Russia shares a border with North Korea. With fishing becoming an ever-more important part of North Korea’s economy, both nation are expecting this to become a major problem.

Maybe this will soon lead to the mystery being solved. Or maybe it never will be. The moral of this story is to not be a North Korean fisherman.

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