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The remains of eight ill-fated seafarers in a skeleton-filled ghost ship have washed ashore on Japan’s North Korean facing coast. These tragic and often grisly finds are becoming all too common as desperate defectors try to find a new route to freedom after despot Kim Jong Un has clamped down on those fleeing his tyrannical regime earlier this year.

A Japanese resident spotted the 22-foot wooden boat floating in Miyazawa Beach in Oga, Akita Prefecture along the Sea of Japan. Japanese officials searched the vessel and found the skeletonized remains indicating a significant time had passed prior to the vessel washing ashore. The decomposition was so advanced as to make telling if the occupants of the vessel were men or women. The 68-year-old woman who initially spotted the boat told Kyodo News she saw rescue workers carrying skeletal remains using stretchers.

A wooden boat, which drifted ashore with eight partially skeletal bodies and was found by the Japan Coast Guard, is seen in Oga, Akita Prefecture, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo on November 27, 2017. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN JAPAN. - RC1916E90BA0

At least nine bodies have drifted to the Japanese coast not including this most recent find this year with another three boats collected on and off the coastline. More bodies have been pulled from the waters in past years – 11 in 2016 and 27 in 2015. Japan and North Korea have no diplomatic ties and tensions are often high due to Pyongyang’s continued missile and nuclear threats.

This comes just days after the body of another North Korean man on Sado Island suspected of attempting to defect from the famine-ridden hermit kingdom washed up onto the Japanese island along with the parts of another wrecked wooden ship. The Japanese coast guard also found a pack of cigarettes and other personal belongings with Korean letters scrawled on them near the body though it is still unclear how he died.

In yet another incident marking the third such in just one week’s time, eight North Korean fishermen carrying squid washed ashore outside the seaside town of Yurihonjo. The fishermen vehemently deny that they are defecting however, others speculate that the fishermen may fear harsh punishment from North Korean government officials under the reign of Kim Jong Un should they return. North Korea has been plagued by famine and poor conditions for years. Since the famine hit in 1995, between 300,000 and 800,000 North Koreans have died each year from malnutrition and related diseases.

A wooden boat is moored at a nearby marina, in Yurihonjo, Akita prefecture, northern Japan, Friday, Nov. 24, 2017. Japanese police are investigating eight men found on Japan's northern coast who say they are from North Korea and washed ashore after their boat broke down. Akita prefectural police said Friday they found the men late Thursday after receiving a call that a group of suspicious men were standing around at the seaside in Yurihonjo town. Police also found the wooden boat at the marina. (Kyodo News via AP)

Since hostilities ceased after the Korean Conflict in 1953 some 300,000 North Koreans are estimated to have defected from King Jong Un’s reign of terror in the tightly controlled hermit country. Official statistics published by the Ministry of Unification have documented just over 30,000 defectors since 1998. That year, at the height of the starvation and famine that claimed over one million lives in the North, the government registered 302 males and 116 females — a total of 947 North Korean defectors.

Roughly 225 refugees have been granted direct asylum in the United States from North Korea as a result of former president George W. Bush signing into the law the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004. The law was intended to promote freedom and human rights to those fleeing the dictatorship. There are believed to be several hundred illegal North Korean immigrants also residing across the United States.

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