An underwater excavation company recovered 3,300 kilograms (3.3 tons) of foreign coins from a Japanese vessel that was shelled by US Air Force during World War II. The ship was found in the Yellow Sea close to Gunsan, South Korea.
Daecheon-based Sea Love Co. Ltd. is still searching in the waters of Seonyu Island in the western part of South Korea, where the ship was found, hoping to find the gold bars that was believed to be part of the famed Yamashita treasure, Korea Joongang Daily said.
Pyun Do-young, the owner of the company, said, "When our divers discovered the deck of the sunken ship, we found the old coins piled in rotting wooden boxes on the deck.
"Most of the sunken ship was submerged in mud and some of the coins were stuck in the mud."
The ship is believed to be the Nishima Maru No. 10 that was described in "The History of Ships during War," a Japanese chronicle published in 1991.
Pyun said, "Before the end of World War II, some high-ranking Japanese government officials who predicted Japan’s loss in the war began to steal gold, cultural assets, jewelry and minerals from China and Southeast Asian countries and secretly shipped them in their private vessels, like the Nishima Maru.
"But on their way to Japan, some Japanese ships that supposedly were carrying treasure sank after being shelled by U.S. forces flying along the west coast of Korea near Gunsan."
The one million Chinese coins made from nickel were minted between 1920 and 1930. They are temporarily stored in state-owned Gunsan Regional Maritime Affairs and Port Office while waiting for the original owners.
A Yonsei University professor said, "If the coins are genuine, they will be worth as much as silver the time, because currencies were very unique in the early 1920s in China."
Another official of the excavation company said the coins have not been appraised yet, "But we expect they would be about 5 billion won ($4.6 million), based on the current online Chinese currency markets."
The ultimate goal of the company is to unearth the bullions hidden in the ship if this were, indeed, the Yamashita's gold.
Details of this report here.