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Study: Many South Koreans are skeptical of investigators’ report on Cheonan sinking

SEOUL — Only one-third of South Koreans trust the findings of the South Korean-led international investigation into the sinking of the warship Cheonan, according to the results of a poll published this week in the Chosun Ilbo newspaper.

The investigation team, which included members from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Sweden, contended that a North Korean torpedo launched from a submarine ripped the Cheonan in half on March 26. Forty-six sailors died.

However, some experts dispute the team’s findings, saying the science used to study the explosion was flawed.

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North Korea has repeatedly denied involvement in the incident, which occurred near a disputed maritime border between the two Koreas.

The poll, conducted by Seoul National University’s Institute for Peace and Unification Studies in July, found that South Koreans are split in their opinions of the investigation findings.

Results showed 32.5 percent of respondents had at least some confidence in the findings; 35.7 percent said they “completely distrust” or “tend to distrust” them; and the remaining 31.8 percent said they did not know, according to the Chosun Ilbo.

IPUS interviewed 1,200 adults in 16 cities and provinces, the newspaper reported. The poll has a margin of error of 2.8 points and a 95 percent confidence level.

Lee Sang-Shin, a senior researcher with IPUS, said factors contributing to the skepticism of the investigation team’s findings include inconsistent statements from the government after the attack, continued suspicions about the findings raised by some lawmakers and civilian experts, and reluctance by China and Russia to blame North Korea for the attack, the Chosun Ilbo reported.

The United Nations on July 9 condemned the attack but stopped short of blaming North Korea.

The IPUS results differ from a June poll taken by the Ministry of Public Administration and Security, in which 75.4 percent of 1,000 adults polled and 75.1 percent of the same number of teenagers believed North Korea attacked the Cheonan.

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