The Coast Guard said Friday that a South Korean fishing boat was apprehended earlier this month by the North Korean military in South Korean waters in the East Sea.
According to the East Regional Headquarters of the Korea Coast Guard, the boat was in an area where fishing is restricted when its crew was approached by seven North Korean guards in a rubber dinghy around 5:45 p.m. on Nov. 3. The fishing boat had embarked from Hupo Port in Uljin, North Gyeongsang Province, to haul up the fishing net that its crew had cast two weeks prior.
Boarding the vessel without permission, the North Korean guards disabled the communication devices and detained the 10 sailors, excluding the captain, in the cabin.
The boat then sailed almost 13 kilometers north for two hours. At around 7:50 p.m. that day, the boat embarked for home after the crew members were told that they could return because “the two Koreas are in a reconciliatory relationship.”
The same boat was approached by the North Korean guards again Nov. 15. At around 10:40 p.m., a patrol boat from the North warned the South Korean fishermen to leave over a loudspeaker. The fishermen reported the incident to the local authorities at 11:21 p.m. and returned to the port the next day.
Upon examining the evidence, including the sailors’ testimony and the boat’s GPS records, the maritime police concluded that the vessel had been apprehended in South Korean waters and the North Korean guards had breached the sea boundary between the two Koreas.
In response, the police deployed a guard ship near the sea border and increased the number of air patrols over the northern part of the East Sea starting Nov. 16.
The government is also planning to deliver an official statement to the North, expressing its regrets and requesting measures to prevent any recurrence.
Fishing boats are permitted inside the restricted waters as long as they can be tracked by a GPS device and report to the local government twice a day.
By Choi Ji-won (firstname.lastname@example.org)