South sending troubled fishermen back to North

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South sending troubled fishermen back to North

South Korea rescued five North Korean fishermen drifting in its waters and will repatriate them to the North upon their request, the South’s government said yesterday.

South Korea’s Ministry of Unification said in a press release yesterday that the Coast Guard found and rescued the five North Koreans on Friday from a two-ton sinking vessel drifting into southern waters 35 nautical miles from the Dokdo islets - the country’s easternmost land - on Friday.

The male fishermen were aged between 20 and 40, the ministry said, and asked to be repatriated to their homeland. The ship was seized by the Coast Guard, but it was sinking under high waves when it was towed, the ministry said.

The fishermen will all be sent back to the North today through the border village of Panmunjom, according to the ministry.

The repatriation of North Koreans drifting into the South has been a sensitive issue for the regime, as some fishermen have previously asked to stay in the capitalist country.

In early June, South Korea repatriated one of three North Korean fishermen who drifted into its waters, but the other two were allowed to stay in the South, despite North Korea asking for their return.


BY KIM HEE-JIN [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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