There were clues as to the men's origins: a cigarette package bearing Korean words, a badge bearing the likenesses of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. The signs point to North Korea, and to some tragedy at sea. Japanese police say the wooden boat found capsized and washed up in Kanazawa last Wednesday held in its rooms seven badly decayed bodies, which were retrieved Monday. It's an occurrence that comes on the heels of a record-setting 2017, reports the Wall Street Journal, with 104 instances of boats or boat fragments washing up or found adrift that were thought to hail from North Korea; in 2016, it was 66. The 2017 cases returned 35 bodies, including some that were reduced to bone.
The Japan Times reports that on the day the boat was spotted, a body was recovered roughly 50 feet from it. An autopsy suggested the man died some time around September. ABC Australia's report indicates the eighth body may have come from the boat, though that hasn't been confirmed. The Times quotes an official as speculating that rough winter seas may have caused problems for North Korean fishermen seeking a catch in the Sea of Japan. (On this boat, 10 men who were alive.)