중앙데일리

Japan and Korea in tug-of-war at sea

June 01,2005
Maritime police forces from Korea and Japan engaged in a literal tug-of- war on the open sea off Ulsan yesterday after both sides lashed lines to a Korean fishing boat in an attempt to pull the vessel into their respective territorial waters.
The Japanese authorities said that the Korean fishing vessel, named Sinpungho, intruded into their exclusive economic zone and fished illegally.
Just after midnight Tuesday, three Japanese boats approached the Sinpungho after the Korean trawler was discovered on radar to be 5 kilometers (3 miles) inside Japan’s economic zone.
Fearing capture by the Japanese, the Korean boat headed back toward Korea but was caught by a Japanese vessel. When three police officers tried to board the Shin Poong Ho, one fell into the sea.
In the confusion as the Japanese sought to rescue the officer, the Sinpungho, with the other two Japanese officers aboard, tried to escape. In an effort to stop the boat from fleeing, the Japanese officers attacked Shin Poong Ho’s captain, Jeong Wook-hyun, and another crew member.
When it reached Korean waters, the vessel reported the incident to Busan maritime police.
Ulsan police sent three ships, one of which tied up to the Sinpungho on its port side in order pull it back to Korea.
A Japanese vessel, smaller than the Korean counterparts, lashed on to the opposite side in a bid to drag the ship toward Japan.
According to a Korean government official, Japan argued that because the Sinpungho had intruded into its economic zone and remained on the open sea yesterday, Japan had the right to seize it for investigation. The Korean official called the notion “unacceptable.”
The standoff took place about 29 kilometers off Ulsan. The area, while in the Korean exclusive economic zone, belongs to neither country.
Noting the incident, Korea’s foreign minister, Ban Ki-moon, expressed his concerns to Japan’s deputy foreign minister, Ichiro Isawa, who was visiting Korea for an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Jeju Island beginning today.
“The Japanese should retreat so that we can deal with this internally,” Mr. Ban was quoted by a government official as saying. “If there’s any penalty to be handed out, we will do it.”


by Lee Key-one, Park Shin-hong


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