Emerging out of the mist, the hulking mass of a decaying vessel, its tattered North Korean flag fluttering in the breeze, silently floats toward the shore. The sight became an eerily common one in Japan, where some dozens of the so-called ghost ships have reportedly turned up in recent years. Crewed only by dead men unable to tell of what happened on their final voyage, mystery has surrounded the phenomenon. All that was known was that the boats were almost certainly from

North Korea. Writing in Korean – including signs indicating the boat belonged to the “Korean People’s Army” – and the remains of North Korean flags provided the only concrete evidence as to their origins. But why they began washing ashore in towns on Japan’s west coast, and what exactly was killing their crews remained a mystery. The phenomenon left authorities scratching their heads and prompted an investigation in the country. READ MORE