Oct. 4 (UPI) -- The South Korean government has been quietly amending official statements on the 2010 sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan -- and has deleted references to senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol.
Kim, a North Korea regime insider who has met with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House, is a former military intelligence chief who could have been responsible for the attack on the Cheonan that killed nearly 50 South Koreans on board.
The South Korean unification ministry's online portal had information on Kim on pages with information on the Cheonan sinking and the bombardment of South Korea's Yeongpyeong Island, but a page on Kim was recently deleted, local television network Channel A reported Thursday.
The information was available as recently as early 2018, according to the report.
The page on Kim was removed in May by the unification ministry, following the signing of the inter-Korea Panmunjom Declaration on April 27.
The report of missing data comes after South Korea's defense ministry distributed new documents on Wednesday to the National Assembly, revising official statements on "past incidents in the West Sea" or Yellow Sea.
Those incidents, including the Cheonan sinking, were not North Korea attacks but rather "accidental armed conflicts," according to the South Korean military, JoongAng Ilbo reported Thursday.
The framing of incidents on Korea's western coast as armed accidents, rather than planned attacks, goes against evidence the North Korean military had increased communication ahead of conflicts, such as the bombardment of Yeonpyeong Island, a former South Korean intelligence official told the JoongAng.
Nam Sung-wook, a North Korea expert at Korea University in Seoul, said characterizing clashes at sea near the disputed Northern Limit Line as "accidents" is "comparable to saying the 1950-53 Korean War did not begin with a North Korean attack of the South."
"It is worrisome if this is the kind of concept being used to approach issues of the NLL," Nam said.